Top 8 Home Improvement Tips

When it comes to home improvement, you have a lot of things to do, such as upgrading fixtures, adding on your existing square footage and so and so forth. No matter what improvements you have on your mind, you can use the following tips throughout the process.

1) Look at the Condition of Your Home

First of all, you need to have a good idea of the existing condition of your home. This will help you come up with some bright ideas that you can implement. You can make a wish list by walking through your home.

2) Get inspiration

For inspiration, you can check out local magazines, color swatches and your local paint stores. Don’t just think that it is a waste of time. As a matter of fact, spending a good deal of time for planning is a great idea.

3) Set your budget

Don’t worry if you are on a budget. You can spend a few months in order to plan your budget and then set a budget. As a matter of fact, planning your budget ahead of time can save you a good deal of money.

4) Ask for help

You can make your home improvement project inexpensive and easier by asking your friends and family members for help. So, you should not waste your time and ask for help instead. You have no idea how helpful they can be for your project.

5) Seek out permits

If your project requires plumbing, electricity and structural that may include permits, you should get them ready beforehand. You can hire a general contractor if you have no idea what permits you need to get.

6) Be flexible

For instance, if you want to get your project completed in 2 months, you may want to be flexible and extend the deadline to a few more days. The same applies to the resources and budget as well. This will save you a lot of headache later on.

7) Talk to Your partner

In the start, you should talk to your partner about the project. Make sure he or she knows the roles they have to perform. Next, you should allow them to do what they want to do. You don’t have to assign duties. The fact of the matter is that this will take the pressure off of both of you.

8) Use safety precautions

Like any project, you have to use some safety precautions in order to make sure you and your home don’t get hurt or damaged. All you have to do is follow the instructional manuals on each tool you use throughout the project. Aside from this, you may want to use tutorials and advice from the rental store for help prior to starting the project.

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Planning Your New Staircase – 8 Great Tips

Although we tend to take them for granted, stairs can have a surprisingly big impact on the look and feel of our homes. An attractive, well-designed staircase can give the whole property a lift, adding instant appeal and even increasing its resale value. Shabby stairs, on the other hand, are likely to have the opposite effect.

But how do you go about planning for a new staircase? Follow these simple steps:

1. Measure the height

Before ordering your stairs, you need to determine how much space is available. Start by finding out the floor-to-floor height. This involves measuring from the top of the finished lower floor to the top of the finished upper floor. The term ‘finished floor’, by the way, refers to the surface you walk on and includes any floor covering such as carpet or laminate. Once the staircase manufacturer has this information, they can work out how many steps are needed to create well-proportioned stairs that comply with UK building regulations.

2. Measure the width

Having established the height, you now have to find out the width. This comprises the total measurement across the strings and steps combined. (Strings, also called stringers, are structural supporting boards running along each side of the staircase.) Unless you’re designing a house from scratch, the width of the stairs will be determined by the current space available.

If you have any choice, go for the widest steps that will fit. A broad staircase is safer, easier to use and more practical, particularly in large family homes. While there is no legal minimum width in the UK, the standard figure is 860mm, so try not to make your stairs narrower than that.

3. Straight or winding?

As for the layout of the staircase, a single straight flight of stairs is the easiest and most economical option, as long as you have enough floor space. L-shaped and U-shaped stairs that twist back on themselves are widely considered to look more attractive. However, they tend to be more complicated, and therefore more costly.

To create a turn in the staircase so it can change direction, you will need winder treads or a landing – or a combination of both. A winder is a kite-shaped or triangular tread which is used to create a turn in an otherwise straight staircase.

A landing is an intermediate platform set between floor levels to join flights of stairs together. It might consist of a quarter landing (the width of a single flight of stairs) which makes a 90 degree turn in the staircase, or a half landing (the width of two flights of stairs) which creates a turn of 180 degrees, giving a U shape.

4. Treads and risers – open or closed?

The steps are made up of treads – the part that you walk on – and risers – vertical boards that form the face of each step. Risers can be open (with gaps between the treads) or closed (encased with solid boards). Open risers are particularly popular in modern homes as they increase the flow of light. However, young children and elderly residents may find them a little challenging.

Many people like to add one or two feature steps at the foot of the stairs for extra impact. Various combinations are available, including single or double D end shapes and more softly rounded bullnose steps.

5. String style

The strings, or stringers, can be closed or open. A closed – also called solid – string runs up both sides of the staircase and completely envelops the treads and risers, concealing the edge of the stairs from view. An open, or cut, string has the upper edge machined away so that the outline of the steps is visible from the side. This style is more complex to make, and therefore more expensive, than a closed string design, but is widely considered more desirable.

6. New newels?

Newel posts are upright supports that anchor the handrails, treads and strings of the staircase, forming an essential part of its structure – so don’t rip them out unless absolutely necessary. They come in a variety of designs and may consist of a single post, known as a plain newel, or a shaped piece of timber (a newel turning) attached to a separate base. If you are only revamping your stairs rather than installing new ones, you would be wise to retain the existing posts and just change the newel caps for a fresh look.

7. How many spindles?

Spindles, or balusters, are the vertical supports that connect the handrail to the rest of the balustrade. As they are such a conspicuous feature they can have a huge influence over the look and feel of a staircase, so give your selection plenty of thought. You don’t necessarily have to stick to just one style of spindle – try mixing and matching two designs for something a bit different. Glass panels are also a great way of creating a light and airy feel.

As a general rule of thumb, you need two spindles per tread, or one where there is a newel post on a landing. Most stair manufacturers will be able to help you work out how many spindles or panels are required.

8. Handrail hints

Under UK rules your staircase needs a handrail on at least one side if it is narrower than 1m, and on both sides if it is wider than this. Many people prefer to fit one anyway, for ease of use. Most handrails run between the newel posts (known as a post-to-post system), but on some stairs you can choose to have them flowing over the tops of the posts (an over-the-post system). You may also want a wall-mounted handrail, particularly if you have children.

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How to Make Your Home Child-Friendly

Babies and toddlers are a source of joy and happiness to a household, but they are very prone to accidents. They are at a phase where they can walk around and explore, but they not really aware of dangers around them. That is why it is the responsibility of their parents or guardians to make sure that the homes toddler and babies live in are safe and child-friendly. Here we will look into some of the common accident areas in the home and discuss how you can make them safer for your kids.

Stairs

The stairs is the first one you should inspect. The danger of being careless when using stairs needs no explanation. Even adults easily get injured when they go up and down the stairs recklessly. And the injuries from stair-related accidents are often serious. Here are some ways to make stairs safer.

· Adding a slip-proof matting on individual steps

· Adding a soft rubber mat on the exact spot where the stair ends on the bottom to reduce injury

· Teaching children stair safety

· Putting a non-slip grip on the stair handles

Electrical outlets

Electricity is important for our modern society, but they are not supposed to come into contact with human skin because they can cause myriad injuries. Most adults know better than to poke their bare hands inside an electrical outlet, but not children. One of the common causes of child accidents is electrocution. So if you have children, make sure your electric outlets are safe.

· Installing power outlet covers help a lot in keeping your child safe especially if the outlet is not being used.

· Covering outlets with furniture so it is difficult to reach by children

· Renovating the house to transfer outlets higher beyond the reach of kids

Bathrooms

The danger in the bathroom is slipping. Young and old people can fall victim to the lack of friction caused by soapy wet tiles. But sometimes, there is no way around it. Bathroom tiles will get wet and slippery. Here’s what you can do.

· Place anti-slip plastic or rubber mats on the bathroom floor

· Change the tiles with anti-slip tiles through renovation

· Add some soft cushion on the corners of the sink and rubber cushion on the toilet seat to avoid injuries.

· Make sure that the soap is secured in the tray so it does not accidentally fall off and cause an accident.

Kitchen

The kitchen is the place where you cook your food, but it is not the place for children to be alone by themselves. Unfortunately, they do sometimes come to the kitchen and play with whatever they can find there including knives, forks, and other sharp objects.

· Make sure that the oven has child safety features so they can’t open it and come inside.

· Secure knives in high places so children can’t reach it.

Cabinets, Shelves, Corners of Tables and Posts

Children love to explore because for them everything is new, an adventure, but the cabinets and shelves are not places for them to try to climb. Make sure the cabinets and shelves are secured by the wall behind so they won’t fall down in case a child does climb up on them. The corners of tables and chairs as well should have cushions in case a child hits his or her head.

By child-proofing your home, you can rest assured that your children can enjoy growing up without getting into accidents, which can put their lives in danger.

4sk Constructions and Renovations is a Brisbane East home renovation company that offers commercial fit out, construction of decks and pergolas, home extensions, new homes, and general renovation services.

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Sears Promo Codes – What Can I Buy With Them?

A lot of people are looking for ways they can save money. Whether they are buying food, clothing, household items, and necessities, it is the innate nature of an individual to look for a discount. If they cannot find a discount, they will look for a cheaper option. This though, does not apply with Sears promo codes.

The beauty about having a code is that you can get to save some items on your shopping venture. Since you have gotten a promo code for Sears, you can make use of the discount only with the brand. But you should not worry on what you can use it with as Sears has a complete line of everything that you can possibly need or want. The only thing they lack is food.

You can use your promo code if you will buy appliances, automotive/tires, beauty, baby, bed, bath, home, books, clothing, electrical gadgets, gifts, fitness, sports, health, jewelry, and a lot of other products. With Sears, you can easily have choose what you want to buy as they have such an extensive array of available products that you can choose from. You can even buy gifts for your friends.

The list of items that you can buy with your Sears promo codes seems to be endless. Your needed items can simply be bought at Sears. Because of this, you do not need to go to another retail store so you can complete what’s on your list. Truly, this fact alone can already save you some money on transportation costs that you would have otherwise needed to spend.

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Top Brand Professional Automotive Tools Reviewed – Know Your Budget

The tool market is well serviced in terms of brands, design, quality and price. The key consideration is to evaluate your needs. For example, it is pointless buying a laptop capable driving sophisticated 3G games when really all that is required from the unit is basic desktop and internet work. This kind of example also applies to buying tools. For instance, why waste one’s budget on buying the most expensive tools when their application is for occasional hobby type tasks.

Lets start with an overview comparison. It is widely agreed that the best quality and designed tools are manufactured by the Snap-on company. This brand of tools is designed for the professional market. No tool brand is perfect and infallible to failure. However, the Snap-on lifetime warranty means that when a tool breaks, it is replaced or repaired by the service representatives. Snap-on tools can be bought from their distribution trucks and vans that visit automotive workshops. Alternatively, their online catalog allows purchasing via the internet. Second-hand and recycled Snap-on tools are also eagerly traded through websites like eBay and eBay Partner sites.

As noted above, Snap-on automotive tools are at the upper price range. However, there is no shortage of professional grade tool brands at price points below that of the Snap-on brand. For example the brands: Matco, MAC and Cornwell are equally respected in the professional automotive sector. Matco, MAC and Cornwell off a range of professional tools that deliver quality and reliability while carrying sound lifetime warranties and professional after sales service. And are less expensive than the Snap-on brand for the budget minded professional automotive technician. The availability of these brands for sale is similar to Snap-on tools. Trucks visit and distribute tools at automotive workshops. Also, online catalogs and auction type websites offer buy opportunities.

For those budget sensitive buyers, the next set of tool brands is SK and Craftsman. The manufacturing quality of these brands meet USA standards and carry similar lifetime warranties like those brands mentioned above. So, for the semi-professional or hobbyist application these tool brands are an ideal choice. Some may argue that the SK brand, although not as popular, is a little superior to the Craftsman brand. But this opinion is subjective. Craftsmanship and SK brand tools are a more accessible to the buying market. For example, Craftsmanship brand tools are stocked at Sears stores, while the SK brand is found in automotive parts stores and outlets.

In summary, if price is no restraint, then tools from the Snap-on range are considered to be the best quality. Where quality and service is still a priority, then brands such as: matco, MAC and Cornwell offer offer quality profession lines of tools as less expensive price points. Finally, the brands SK and Craftsmanship serve the semi-professional market with tools that are not subject to the high demands of daily professional usage. The advice for any buyer is assess the task application of the tool, and allocate your budget to buy the right tool for the right job.

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Automotive Dynamic Guide – How to Be Ready to Drive in a Foreign Land

If you are going to be behind the wheel of a new rented car, and in a strange foreign land where you have never driven before, what should you do in preparing to drive?

Just not so long ago, I was in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, located just north of Singapore. As those of you who have traveled widely to Asia would know, the traffic on the roads in most of the Asian countries is heavy throughout the day, and many times driving habits take precedence over traffic rules and regulations, especially when the searing tropical heat bears down on cool heads, and raise tempers!

Before me was a small locally produced Malaysian car – the Perodua Kancil- named after the tiny deer that can run swiftly through the Malaysian jungles.

And I need to use that car, to brave the heavy traffic of the day to move to the next nearest city of Shah Alam to attend to a business meeting.

Alien to the area, alien to the car- what should I do?

Indeed, when you are confronted with such a situation, what should you do?

Keep cool – and PLAN your journey, and use the car intelligently.

For instance, perform the very, very basic inspection on your car before you even use it. This means:

1. check the tires and their pressure

2. check the engine oil and their brake fluid

3. check the battery

4. ensure the brakes are functioning ( there’s nothing like to take it for a short slow ride to put it to the test! )

Plan your journey- for instance, do not be afraid to ask directions and record them down so that you can always refer to the notes. Plan the timing of your journey – so that you can always drive during the slower traffic periods, away from the maddening crowds in the rush hour traffic. Protect yourself especially your eyes from the glaring tropical sun by wearing light sunglasses. Be properly attired. And wear shoes! The last tip on wearing shoes may seem funny, but when it is perennial summer in the tropics, many visitors, especially those who come from the cooler temperate countries would be tempted to wear only sandals!

And when you go on the roads, observe the speed limits. Do not push your vehicle to the maximum speed limits especially where you are driving along strange highways and where traffic jams are a norm.

In my personal case, I was astonished to see cars doubled parked along busy suburb shopping areas and feeder roads while I cruised my way to my destination. I wasn’t sure whether that was allowable, as the double parking of cars in two rows converted the road into a narrow one way path, leading to congestion at many parts. It sure was a “revelation”!

But in a strange land, where you are not the expert in local traffic rules, it is best to play it save. Drive defensively and plan your travel to ease your journey, and you will enjoy that ride.

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Unique Oil Change Concepts Research

In the mobile oil change business there is no standard system, many folks simply build what works or buy a biz-op unit that makes since to them. For years we have studies these various types of units in the market place. If you are in the oil change business you realize how serious it is to stay efficient. In our company like anyone else in this industry, we are out to bring new innovation to the market. We have been looking at ways to better our services.

We have been to http://www.Kibbi.com in Elkhart, Indiana, we have viewed there unit in another state. We have discussed these and other concepts with other engineers and thinkers. What we have decided is that all ideas are worthy of exploration in our quest to find the most efficient and most environmentally sensitive units. Why are we so driven to build a better mouse-trap? Why are we un deterred with the exploitations of Box Stores changing oil, such as Wal-Mart on what appears to be a below cost endeavor at $12.99. Why do we believe that it is possible to stay efficient enough to compete? Because we see the new innovations out on the street and see entrepreneurs everywhere are rising to the occasion.

Well this year in San Diego, Jiffy Lube is announcing a new program for franchisees with extended bays and adding everything from brake jobs, and engine repair including complete R and R rebuilding of motors. It makes sense for them due to the increased competition in the market place. Midas Muffler has also gone to changing brakes and oil changes. Tilden Franchise is also looking to co-partner with other services and to bundle services to compete. Jiffy Lube’s largest franchisee with well over 150 stores; was de-listed by NASDAQ; are we witnessing a new era in automotive repair and oil changes? We think so.

We watched recently as Roger Penske left Kmart as they closed the doors on 500 stores nationwide and now are merging with Sears in their re-organization plan and closing another 150 stores. In Tucson, AZ for instance we see Kmart on the North West side of town pulling out of the market and then we see a new awesome Valvoline Oil Change Facility on the same property with a 2 million dollar carwash and Detailing Center? Why, well as Lance Fisher the proprietor sees it, he can bundle services, get a no interest loan deal from Valvoline, give the customers what they want and his incredible facility will draw three different services to the same property. Is this the answer to the price wars, bundling, like Microsoft? Well Lance Fisher bets with real money in Tucson, is that a good bet? We think it is, you should see this place, WOW, one of the nicest carwashes in the country, ranks up there with Auto-Wash East and Danny’s Family Carwashes in Phoenix.

These are just a few of the latest interesting changes in the Industry. Some would say this Industry is stagnant. We disagree. We are watching Kendall battle for the latest changes in oil change interval extension and the war against traditional thinking with AMSOIL, Mobile One and others. Lots of new innovations and claims to come; who will lead? Well as we approach the pack and have our sights on the Yellow Jersey, we believe that the team who can service the customer and bring the value will be team yellow. We know this is an up hill grind and we will pursue the race with open eyes and an open mind. If you are in the Oil Change Business Think on this.

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Caring for Leather Car Interiors

Leather consists of thousands and thousands of intertwined fibers, with penetrable pores throughout–just like skin. Proper maintenance starts with cleaning the fibers. Cleaning removes fiber-severing abrasives and pore clogging dirt and dust, both of which will breakdown the leather over time and give it a less than pleasing texture and appearance.

If you have pets, then you may want to invest in pet pads or pet seat covers for your interior. You will also want to look into a good reflective sun shield.

With regular cleaning and conditioning, a leather interior will last for the life of the vehicle. Leather is tough and abuse resistant. The main concern is to determine is what type of leather interior you have, then choose cleaners and conditioners designed specifically for the task. Traditional leather interiors are made of 100% leather, where as some modern interiors are leather coated with a supple vinyl.

A quick test to determine which type you have is to use a small amount of cool clean water. Traditional leather will absorb water, where vinyl coated leather will repel it. Either way, a few drops of water won’t harm your interior.

The next step is to determine the right cleaners and conditioners for your leather. Saddle soap and conditioners, while good for your baseball glove or go-go boots, are not to be used on automotive leather of any kind. The soap contains alkalis, which can permanently damage the material in your seats. Household detergents and cleaners can damage leather as well. Always use only a product designed for the type of leather your vehicle has.

Removing harmful oil and dirt deposits is the crucial first step. Always use clean soft cloths to prevent damage to, or inadvertent removal of the leather dye. Stubborn dirt lodged into crevices may require the use of an upholstery brush. Removal of gunk and grime must be done before conditioning the leather, as you don’t want to permanently push these contaminants into the pores.

The next step, probably even more important, is conditioning. This nourishes and moisturizes to lubricate individual fibers, keeping them from becoming brittle and dry. It replaces essential, natural oils that evaporate. How can you tell a good conditioner? A good conditioner will offer UV protection. Like human skin, ultra-violet rays will quickly cause deterioration of the leather and shorten its lifespan significantly. A good conditioner will be absorbed into the leather, not sit atop the surface or leave residue behind. The surface should not be oily after application. The very best conditioners are pH balanced, have stain repellants, waterproofing agents to protect from accidents.

While cleaning and conditioning your interior be sure not to leave any tools or sharp objects in your pockets that could put a hole in your seats and your good time. As with any cleaner, conditioner or chemical that involves the potential for ruining something really expensive, always test first in a small, inconspicuous area.

Inexpensive leather cleaners and conditioners will contain petroleum distillates, silicon or silicon oils, and gloss agents that deliver an inferior, greasy finish that does nothing for the leather, and transfers to anything that the leather comes in contact with. These chemicals are harmful to your leather.

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