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Home Contractors

Log Home Maintenance Tips

Maintaining a log home may feel like a huge project. The longer you put it off, the more work it requires. However, with a little effort each year, you can keep your home looking beautiful for years to come. Here are a few tips.
1) Start with good quality products. Log home stains and sealers are NOT all the same. As a general rule, you will get what you pay for. Most of the economy grade stains are designed to be reapplied every year. While it may seem like its saving a little money up front, it ends up costing more in the long run. On the other hand, most of your high quality stains are made to be durable and last for many years when properly maintained. These cost a little more up front, but save money over the long run. I recommend Sikkens stains if you like oil based, or Perma Chink if you prefer a water base, but there are other quality stains available as well.
2) Cleaning your log home is a must. Most stain manufacturers recommend washing your home at least once and preferably twice each year. This may sound daunting, but it really isn’t that difficult. Begin by applying log wash with a pump up sprayer. Use a soft bristle brush on an extension pole to gently scrub away dirt/dust build up and finally rinse away with a garden hose, or low power pressure washer. (If you know that you will never do this yourself, consider purchasing a maintenance contract with your local stain applicator.)
3) Inspect. While you are cleaning, take a good look and make note of any areas where the stain looks like it might need to be freshened up. If you wait until the stain starts cracking and peeling, it is too late. However, when you first start to notice areas appearing weathered, or dull, apply a light coat on that area. It may be necessary to apply a fresh coat to that entire side of the house to avoid looking splotchy.
4) Finally, if you find that you’ve already let things go too long and the stain has already begun failing, you’re not out of options. If it’s gotten to this point, you will have to remove the failing stain. For years, the only option was chemical strippers and high powered pressure washers. However, today there is a better option. Have a professional cob blasting company come out and remove the stain. Cob blasting safely removes failing stain and brings your log home back down to bare wood so you can have a fresh start. Then, go back to step number one. If steps one through three are followed, step four should not be necessary for many, many years.…

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General Article

Plant Sedum for Reliable Fall Color

Plant Sedum for Reliable Fall Color

Blooming in late summer when the rest of the flower garden is beginning to look rough and ragged, autumn sedum is just beginning to open its flowers for its blooming season.

Most garden sedums are Sedum purpureum “Autumn Joy,” from the botanical family commonly called “Stonecrop.” Stonecrop meant “sprouting from the stone” in Middle English and most likely refers to way the plant often grows among stones, which provide the drainage sedum needs. Sedum comes from the Latin sedere meaning “sit” as in “sitting atop the stones.” They do appear to be sitting atop the stones when growing in a naturalized garden setting.

They are perfect for such naturalized or low-maintenance gardens, because they seem to thrive on neglect. They can grow fairly well in shade, although they do much better in full sun. They don’t seem to mind not being fertilized or watered either.

Moderately tolerant of road or sidewalk salt, they do not like wet feet, a condition almost always fatal. Classified as a herbaceous perennial, sedum grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. Attractive to bees and butterflies, they’re also deer and rabbit resistant.

Sedum grows 18 to 24 inches high and spreads 12 to 18 inches wide. Propagate by stem and leaf cuttings or root division. Divide plants in spring or fall; spring-propagated plants often bloom the same year. Sedum “Autumn Joy” was introduced in 1955. It mixes well in the perennial garden with ornamental grasses, cone flowers, artemisia, and lavender.

Cut the plants back once a year when they first reach eight inches high. This will produce more side growth, which in turn will produce more blooms in fall. The flower buds look like broccoli. The unopened flowers make interesting additions to late summer bouquets.

The flowers turn pink first, then color to deep burgundy as fall progresses. Sedum “Autumn Joy” is the classic burgundy color; other varieties are available in yellow, orange, red or pink.

Whatever color or variety of sedum is growing in your garden, cut the mature flowers to dry for winter bouquets. Their flower clusters are in high demand by crafters and florists for autumn decorating.

You could also leave the dried flowers on the plants to provide winter interest in the garden. The flower often heads peek over the top of the snow, reminding us that things actually grow outside, even if all we see right now is winter’s frozen landscape.

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General Article

Gardening Tips – Successfully Battling the Dry Weather Spells

Gardening Tips – Successfully Battling the Dry Weather Spells

Growing a garden is so much hard (gratifying, but hard) work, and you do not want to see most of your effort go to waste. Threats abound just waiting – almost like a person – to pounce on your garden. Among those threats are dry spells and droughts.

If you live in a relatively plush, rain-heavy area, your local government may not restrict the amount of water you can use for your garden and lawn. However, many people more arid geographies where water isn’t as plentiful. Consequently, it is quite common for areas with lower amounts of rainfall to limit the amount of water you can use. (This was, in fact, the case where I live for over 5 years. Then starting last year, the heavens opened.)

There are steps you can take to keep your garden looking great even when there is limited rainfall.

Ways to Conserve Water

You will have to get a little creative if you are going to keep your garden healthy during a drought. Plan for how you will make your garden as efficient as possible so it does not use as much water.

One of the first ways to improve efficiency when watering your garden is to use a drip irrigation system for the plants. A drip irrigation “system” can be as simple as some holes in a pipe to help slow the flow of water to the soil and plants.

The drip system moves water more slowly, which means the soil and roots actually have time to absorb more of it than when watering your plants the traditional way.

You can also insulate your plants and soil with mulch to help prevent water loss through evaporation. Doing so will also slow the runoff of water when either you water the garden or it rains.

Prepare Ahead of Time

If you know you live in a climate that tends to experience dry weather, you should do whatever you can to prevent your garden from not having enough water ahead of time. One way to do this is to collect water in a rain barrel.

A rain barrel seems much more complicated than it really is, and setting one up is actually pretty easy.

You need to find a large container – such as a large garbage can – to put the barrels in. Then, to maximize the amount of water you collect, place those barrels under your rain downspouts so the barrels collect all the water from the gutters.

Saving the water ahead of time will give you a lot of water to use for your garden. This water will be enough to help get you through the dry spells, and prevent your garden from dying. Just be sure to keep the barrels covered so you don’t attract swarms of mosquitoes!…

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Kitchen Remodel

Are You Thinking About Bathroom Remodeling?

Are you thinking about bathroom remodeling? You might be thinking about a bathroom remodel for any of a number of reasons.

You need more space or functionality

You need a second sink

You want to provide a little more privacy when two people are in the bathroom at the same time

You want to make your bathroom safer

You want to make your bathroom accessible to people with disabilities

You want to update or modernize your bathroom

You want to create your own spa in the privacy of your own home

You want to add a shower

You want to add a whirlpool tub

You want a linen closet in the bathroom

You are getting your house ready to sell

You just want a little change

These are all great reasons to remodel a bathroom. And your reason for remodeling will determine the changes you make. Your budget will also be an important factor in deciding how you will change your bathroom. But there are a few other things you might want to consider in your plans.

— Are you planning to stay in your house as you grow older? If so, you might want to plan to equip the bathroom with fixtures that will make it safer. Should you consider higher toilets? Should you consider stepping into a bathtub in order to take a shower?

— Will someone who has a disability use the bathroom? How will you need to arrange fixtures for ease of use and for the ability to move around in the bathroom? Do you need to plan for space to navigate a wheelchair? If the bathroom is to be used by someone in a wheelchair, should you lower the surface of the vanity? Should you use different sinks?

— One current trend in new homes is to build larger master bathrooms. If you are remodeling your bathroom because you plan to sell your house, this might be a consideration.

— Do you want to add a little luxury to your life? Do you want to create your own spa?

If your remodeling goal is to make your bathroom more accessible and safer, you will probably want to think seriously about access to the shower or to the bathtub. You will certainly want to place a few grab bars (near the toilet, near the shower and near the tub). You might want to install a seat in the shower or a raised toilet. You may find that some of the luxury features also serve comfort and therapeutic purposes as well. For example, multiple shower heads can be soothing for aching joints. A heated floor may be very comfortable in a cold climate.

If your goal is to add a little luxury to your life, you will find that the sky is the limit. Almost anything you can imagine is possible if you have the space and the budget.

If you just need a little extra space or an additional sink, you can do renovations that meet those needs and others at the same time. For example, if you want a second sink in the master bathroom, you can create dramatic effects by choosing a particular style of sink. If you want to remodel your bathroom to provide additional privacy when two people are using the bathroom at the same time, your remodel might be as simple as adding a short wall and a door to enclose the toilet area.

So what is popular now in terms of design and materials? The answer really depends upon what you want to achieve and the direction you want to go. Retro continues to be very popular. You might want to tear out existing vanity areas and bathtubs so you can replace them with a retro footed free-standing bathtub and pedestal sinks. You may be tired of chrome fixtures and simply want to try a new look like brushed nickel.

If you have decided to create a home spa, you might want to use more mirrors, particularly the fog-free mirrors. These mirrors can also be used as nearly-invisible doors to cabinets and cupboards. There are many new styles of small sinks that create amazing visual effects, as well as functionality. You can turn your bathroom into a steam room. You can install a shower with multiple adjustable shower heads at various heights to provide a full body massage. You can install a bathtub on any level (sunken, raised, etc.) for beauty and functionality. Your tub can include several types of jets for hydrotherapy effects.

Your choice of materials will be determined by the “look” you want to achieve. Ceramic tile has almost completely replaced vinyl floor covering. The many varieties and designs in ceramic tile can create virtually any style you want. You can install heating elements beneath the tile …

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Home Renovation

Simple Methods to Locate and Fix Drafty Spots Where Heat Can Escape

We want our homes to be as comfortable as we can. That is the why we want to make sure that our home is cool inside when it is hot outside and warm enough inside when it is cold outdoors.
The cooling and heating system works well when our house is free from any gaps and leaks that may release unwanted energy. No matter how well we maintain our homes gaps, cracks and leaks will result and not necessarily due to the elements. That is why it is important that we always make time for a regular inspection inside and outside our homes. Do not be so relaxed indoors and neglect signs that may tell us that there are gaps in our walls letting the cool breeze inside.
Have a feel on the wall. Walls covered with wall paper can easily hide cracks. Once in a while, touch the walls and feel any cracks beneath it. Do it from side to side bottom to top. This way you can cover a big part of the wall. If you think that there is a crack, work your way from where it starts and end. Mark the part where you feel the gap and you can tear just the part where there is damage. You can also use light to see if there are cracks on your walls.
Another spot where draft might come in is the electrical outlet. Look at gaps where the outlets are. You can place outlet sealer that is easy to attach. Simply place them behind the plate cover over top the receptacle helping create an air tight so that air cannot come through. The holes in the outlet sealers are made in the exact specification of a standard plug.
If you prefer something even much easier, a can of Styrofoam spray may just do the job. Once you found the crack or gap usually in door panels and window sills, simply spray the can over it and clean the excess with acetone.
The location of your attic stairs can also be a source of air infiltration. It can really affect your heating and cooling system. You can take a foam weather strip that you may use on your doors or windows and install it right along the perimeter where the door of the attic stairs folds up against the opening. This will seal a lot of that air infiltration. Also, some people have used foam board or insulation itself and tried to position it over the attic stairs and that can be a mess. Instead, homeowners can opt to use an attic tent that is also easy to install right by following the attached instructions on the pack.
Making minor repairs on the small leaks in and around your home can be menial, but it can save you a lot of money in the future. Doing a regular inspection and maintenance also assures your home stay in top shape and increases its value in the long run.…

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General Article

Getting Started With a Starter Greenhouse

Getting Started With a Starter Greenhouse

With portable greenhouses becoming cheaper and more easily available, there are many people who have become interested in owning one. Whether you are planning to build or buy a starter greenhouse, you should first consider your space requirements and your budget. These two important factors can help you make the right decision regarding the type of structure to be constructed or purchased. You will also need to think about heating and ventilation requirements, and make sure there’s a handy supply of water. From there you can decide what your structure should be made of and what kinds of plants are to be grown inside it.

The next decision is whether to make the structure attached or free-standing. An attached building can be directly accessed from inside the house while a free standing one will require you to get out of the house before having access to it. Or you may opt for an indoor greenhouse if you have space constraints, or if it gets too cold in the wintertime in your region.

There are also different styles of greenhouses, with the classic barn-type being the most common. Portable, pre-fabricated starter greenhouses are very popular because they require very little in the way of setup and are easy to maintain. However, if you’re serious about gardening, you should consider building a permanent structure as it will be more durable over the long term. The typical building made of glass as seen in movies and magazines is an expensive choice, but there are other cheaper alternatives. Many pre-fabricated models make use of aluminum framing enclosed with polycarbonate panels.

Most people who enjoy this form of indoor gardening would say that it is best to build the biggest structure your budget and available space can accommodate. Although some people are hesitant to do so, many of them end up expanding their starter greenhouse, which ends up being more costly. Often, people do not like the idea of having a large enclosure because they are not confident that they are going to be able to completely fill it. The truth is that once they get started, the more likely problem will be which plants they will have to give up when there is no more space for them.

An important consideration when it comes to these structures is that you make sure to choose the kinds of plants that match your level of experience in gardening. You have to make a commitment to caring for them, otherwise it will have been a wasted effort. You also have to remember to ask about permits, requirements and licensing in your neighborhood so that you do not have to worry about anything else other than tending to your growing plants in your starter greenhouse.…

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Room Additions

Granite Countertops: A Buyer’s Guide

Granite is an attractive stone that adds color and warmth to any room. Granite is a natural stone like marble that is as old as the planet and can be found around the globe. It is an igneous rock that is almost always massive, hard and tough, and therefore it has gained widespread use as a construction stone. It can be found in hundreds of color variations that normally have dazzling flecks of quartz crystal embedded within. Granite is complimentary to any architectural or interior design style from ultra-modern to country.
In ancient times it was utilized in public buildings such as temples. In the past few centuries it was still being utilized for the exteriors and columns of prominent buildings. Then in the 19th century, stone suppliers perfected the polishing of granite making it even more sought after to beautify not only the exterior but also the interiors of grand homes and buildings.
The use of granite for kitchen and bathroom countertops, fireplace facades and flooring has been a top tier choice of the best architects and interior designers for decades. Due to its’ perpetual allure and unwavering strength granite is now in high demand for homes of every socio-economic realm.
Although in high-demand across the board, granite remains one of the most expensive choices for a home’s countertops. The price of granite starts at $60 a square foot installed. The majority of the cost is due to the excavation and transportation as well as the cutting, polishing and installation. Since granite is the hardest stone, second only to diamonds, special equipment is needed to work with the massive sheets that must be cut to specification. This in part is why it is not a recommended task for the do-it-yourself homeowner. Cabinetry must be reinforced to be able to handle the weight of the stone. The slab of granite must be cut to precision and set exactly level. If it is not exactly level then the granite is at risk for cracking during regular use.
If you want the look and durability of granite countertops but can’t afford the cost of solid slabs then consider granite tiles. Granite tiles are made from left over pieces of granite and cost considerably less. The effect can be just as stunning. The do-it-yourself homeowner can easily handle the installation of the precut granite tiles which will also save money by avoiding the high installation cost.
Regardless of if you choose to install or have installed granite slabs or granite tiles your home value will increase. Prospective home buyers and renters are now making granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms a priority. Apartment complexes are having granite installed to attract renters and it’s now the number one update that people make to their older homes. Due to its’ incredible durability and beauty, granite is now becoming the norm for kitchens and bathrooms. It’s not a passing fad but a staple similar to a home having a brick exterior that will remain part of a home’s integrity to last a lifetime.…