Category Archives: Home

How to Take Proper Care of Your Natural Stone Tiles – 5 Simple Tips

Natural stone tiles have become quite popular in recent years and are no longer the priority of the wealthy. It is quite common now to have a white marble kitchen top, grey granite floor tiles or antique travertine bathroom walls. Natural stone is a symbol of longevity and durability, however it is also a gentle material that deserves proper care and maintenance in order to reward you with its excellent qualities. The good news is that it is not difficult to clean your natural stone tiles especially if you follow these 5 simple tips given below.

 

Get to know your stone

In order to be able to take proper care of your natural stone you should know a few details about its origin and qualities. The stones can be divided into two main categories depending on their composition – siliceous and calcareous. The first group are sedimentary rocks that consist mainly of silicon dioxide (SiO2) in the form of quartz or quartz-like particles and silica. These stones are quite popular and include granite, sandstone, quartzite, slate, bluestone and brownstone that are used both as interior and exterior tiles. Siliceous stones are more durable and are resistant to acidic fluids, hence granite is one of the preferred stones for countertop since some juice or vinegar spills won’t ruin it. Calcareous stones, on the other hand, are more delicate and sensitive. They are composed of calcium carbonate that is found in shells or pearls and to this group belong the well-known marble, onyx, limestone and travertine. Another important feature of natural stone is their porosity, i.e. the ability to absorb water. The more porous the stone is the more prone it is to stain and to freeze in harsh conditions if used outside.  according to this quality the stones that are usually used rank as follows: sandstone is the most porous, travertine, limestone and slate follow it, marble is next and granite is the least porous of all.

 

Choose the appropriate finish

There is not only a variety of natural stone tiles  to choose from but also an array of different finishes and surfaces that enhance one or another quality of the stone. Some of the most popular finishes are polished, honed, tumbled, and antiqued.

  • The polished finish gives the surface gloss and shine and makes it reflective similar to a mirror. It is often used for marble, granite and travertine but can be applied to other stones as well. The advantage of this finish is that it enhances the color of the stone but also makes the surface quite slippery, so it is not recommendable for floors.
  • The honed finish makes the stone look smooth and matted, while preserving its color. The surface has a lighter shade and is not so shine and reflective. The finishing can be applied to almost all stones and is very suitable for tiles that have to withstand high wear and tear, such as floors.
  • The tumbled finish of a stone makes it look aged and as if walked on for years. It is an ideal finish if you want to give your home the unique atmosphere of the ancient times. You can have marble or travertine tiles with this finishing and use them both for walls and floors in the kitchen or bathroom
  • The antiqued finish is also very popular type of surface since in addition to giving the stone a worn look it also stimulates its further aging and makes it more durable. It is a popular finish for a variety of stones, including limestone, marble, granite and travertine.

You can consult the natural stone tiles manufacturer for the best finishing of your stone in accordance with its purpose.

 

Always seal your stone

The most important advice you should follow is to always seal your natural stone tiles, no matter what type of stone you use or what its finish is. The sealer protects the stone from scratching and stains and enhances its life span. Always choose a sealer that is recommended for your specific stone tiles.

Take daily care

The proper regular care of natural stone tiles is of extreme importance. Both countertops and floors covered with such tiles can be cleaned with mild dishwasher detergent or soap stone and warm water. All food or liquid spills should be swiped immediately to prevent the stone from staining. In order to protect the kitchen tops always use mats under hot surfaces and avoid cutting directly on them as you can scratch them. As for the floors it is good to always vacuum bigger debris and sand particles before mopping and washing them. You can also place doormats or area rugs to protect place that are subject to high traffic.

Remove stains properly

No matter how good we take care of our natural stone tiles they will get an occasional stain or two. If you use the right techniques to clean them, there is nothing to worry about. First you need to identify if the stain is organic (from tea, coffee, food, etc.), oil, rust or other and then proceed accordingly. Organic stains can be cleaned using 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia. Oil stains are better cleaned with a poultice with acetone, ammonia or mild household detergent, while rust is best treated with a commercial rust remover.

Observe these 5 recommendations and the natural stone tiles that you have will serve you very long time, while looking as good as when first installed.

Energy efficient home

Home Energy Tips For the Smart Homeowner

Everyone wants to save money on their home energy bills.  Better yet, wouldn’t it be even better to save money and reduce your impact on the environment?

Younger generations are placing a bigger and bigger emphasis on environmental concerns than older generations, which is great.  We have limited resources on this planet and need to make sure we take care of our planet and leave resources and a healthy planet for generations to come.

When it comes to our home, there are lots of little things we can do that can add up to big savings to your checkbook as well as minimizing the impact on our environment.

Below are some tips for saving money and the planet when it comes to your home.

 

Use Clean Energy For Your Fireplace

Instead of using wood or coal fireplaces, which produce carbon monoxide and other toxins into the atmosphere, consider using cleaner energy sources like natural gas or better yet, go electric.  Electric fireplaces have come a long way in terms of looks and energy efficiency.  My friend Jeanne over at Stylish Fireplaces in Toronto (now in Vaughan) says that younger people are moving more and more towards electric fireplaces due to their versatility and energy efficiency.

 

Use Solar Energy

Solar energy roof panels is still an emerging market but many homeowners are making the switch thanks to federal and state-level subsidies available.  While the upfront costs can be high (20K+), subsidies can offset that costs and often within 10 years your investment will start producing a positive ROI for you as well as a greatly reduced impact on the environment.

 

Energy Efficient HVAC System

If you have an old HVAC system or one that runs poorly, maybe by poor installation or m=workmanship, then you have a chance to save a bundle with a new HVAC system.  If your system is under 10 years old, a good cleaning and regular maintenance plan may be all that’s needed.  If you have an older system, replacing all or parts of the system may be in order.  We had old fiber based ductwork in our house which was falling apart and leaking all over the place and saw an immediate 20% savings on our energy bill, which works out to over $600 a year on our bill.

 

Tankless Water Heater

A hot water tank can use up to 20% of your monthly energy bill, continually heating water that is just sitting in your tank, even if you are gone all day at work or on vacation.  A tankless water heater produces hot water on demand and only heats it when you want to use it.  A tankless water heater can add up to big savings for you over the course of the year.

The only thing I will add is that if you have a large family and people tend to take showers simultaniously, a tankless hot water heater may stuggle a bit trying to supply enough hot water to every shower head.

 

Insulate your attic

Do you have your attic insulated or is it old and not efficient anymore?  In the summer, attic insulation will help keep the heat shining on your roof from getting into your home and causing your HVAC system to work overtime.  In the winter, it will help you keep warm air in the attic and stop it from escaping from the house.  A bonus would be to get an attic fan, which will help get heat out of your home during the summer months.

When we renovated our home a few years ago, we converted our attic into a family room for our growing family.  The home renovation company in Toronto we hired needed to retrofit the attic with proper wallboard, HVAC system, and air circulation to make sure the room did not get too hot in the summer and cool air could reach the third floor when needed.

 

So here are just a few tips to save money on your energy bill at home.  Have any tips of your own?  Let us know in the comments below!

Why Electric Fireplaces Are Better Than Gas and Wood

Are you considering getting a new fireplace for your home?  Before you go out and purchase a gas or wood fireplace, learn more about the benefits of an electric fireplace!

Years ago, electric fireplaces were basically space heaters with a picture of flames on the front glass.  Oh how times have changed! Not only is the flame media much more realistic, some people can’t tell they are not real flames until they have their face pressed up against the glass.

The realistic look and energy and health benefits, make an electric fireplace an attractive option.  Let’s look at some benefits of an electric fireplace.

1 – They are energy efficient.  The costs to run an electric fireplace compare favorably against a gas fireplace and offers the convenience of being able to be placed anywhere an electrical outlet is nearby, you can’t do that with gas.  And with wood, you need to vent 90% of the heat out of the flu or else you’re at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

2 – They are convenient.  Turn on, turn off, set a timer and away we go.  Get clean heat on demand without any gas or wood smell in your home.  Want to turn it on during the summer?  No worries, use the flame only feature and have a fireplace without the heat, something you can’t do with any other fireplace.

3- They are eco-friendly.  No pollutants in the air, no carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.  It just delivers clean, cheap and efficient heat and ambiance whenever you feel like it.

So where you get an electric fireplace?  There are dealers all across the country, Dimplex, Napolean, Amantii and Modern Flame are some fo the better options out there.  We purchased our Dimplex wall fireplace from a Dimplex fireplace dealer in Toronto last year and loved it.  If you live in the States, there are many online options as well that offer great prices.

Check out the tips below for some more electric fireplace tips and hopefully, it’ll help you decide what type of fireplace to buy for your home.

Why Electric Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace

How To Create A Perfect Backyard For Your Family

Most homeowners know that the act of buying a property hardly comes without a certain amount of compromise. For some, instead of having sprawling grounds, it is better to make peace with a seemingly cozy yard.

You can transform your postage stamp yard to an amazing hideaway with just a little planning and forethought. You can create a space a highly functional and aesthetically pleasing small backyard if you can put certain simple ideas together. Here are some small background ideas that can help you transform that ordinary space behind your house to a perfect backyard for your family.

 

Render Your Space Function

One effective way to make your space look more cohesive is by defining its function. You can begin by thinking of various ways through which you can ideally choose to use your exterior. This may include installing a large dining table for some kind of al fresco summer feasting or a turning it into a perfect relaxation spot with plush seating area. You can either decide to break up your yard into a few distinct areas or stick with one feature depending on the availability of space.

 

Build a Tree House

This is almost a must have for every home with a backyard and kids. In fact, the tree house is the No. 1 DIY project for the backyard. This is a place where kids will love to set up meetings, play together and have fun all through the day. If you do not have any in your backyard, it is important you start constructing one with your kid but if you already have one, ensure to render a quick makeover.

 

A Nice Pool

No doubt, swimming pools has a calming effect. They tend to give a backyard that cooling effect. Building a swimming pool or even a Jacuzzi in your backyard would definitely go a long way in transforming your space into a soothing oasis. This special edge can even be obtained from a simple bird bath.

 

Plant a Vegetable Garden

Your yard can be brought to life if you plant flowers and shrubs in it. Even if they may only live for a few months, change the look of your backyard and make it come alive by strategically placing flower beds, shrubs and herb gardens. This will make your space lively and perfect for family parties and pensive personal moments.

 

Put in a Hot Tub

Whether in the middle of a regular-length day or at the end of a long day, nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a hot tub. However, ensure to apply extreme caution around the water, so as to keep things family-friendly.  If you want to use your hot tub for health and exercise, then consider getting a swim spa for your home.

 

Construct an Outdoor Fire Place

An outdoor fireplace comes in very handy during the chilling times of the winter season where you and your family members can cuddle up together to share warmth. It is also a great spot for barbecue parties and to enjoy your backyard in the cooler months of the year.

outdoor-nature-lagoon-home

Should I Use a Mortgage Broker or a Bank

Getting a mortgage is one of the most important steps in the life of any person, a step that needs to be performed with care. One of the crucial things you need to take into account is whom you are contracting the loan from. One of the main options you have is either a mortgage broker or a bank. Both come with advantages and disadvantages, so you nee to be aware of both before taking into account any of the two options.

Despite the fact that mortgage brokers have been around for quite a while, people are still weary to work such an important loan from them because in the past some of these brokers added hidden costs that increased the overall cost of the loan, something that was fixed recently with a law specifically created for this alone.  Mortgage brokers offer homeowners more choices and more education than you would typically see at a bank.

Many people with non-traditional circumstances also benefit from working with a mortgage broker.  People with mediocre credit or self employed people may find a mortgage broker the better option when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage.

The mortgage broker is basically the middleman. He won’t loan you the money, instead he will find the best loaner that you need at an accessible price. This can be either a commercial bank, community bank, credit union, or even a mortgage bank. Some of the most important banks in the country are Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. In Canada, you have Toronto Dominion, RBC, Scotia and BMO as some fo the major national banks. One of the main advantages of a mortgage broker is that is offers you a wide range of variety when compared to the bank, meaning that you have access to a wide range of services from multiple lenders, and you, as a client, only need to select the one that you want. This makes the overall experience a lot more convenient, something that we definitely want.

outdoor-patio-home

On top of that, as a borrower that contacts mortgage brokers you will save a lot of time because the broker will do whatever it takes to fin the best deal for you, according to your own parameters. Brokers also handle the paperwork and meetings with the lenders, so all you need to do is sign the papers and the money will be delivered to you as fast as possible. This surely makes the service very convenient and it’s specifically created to help busy lenders.

The banks on the other hand are the ones in control because they make the decision of lending the money. If a borrower is a longtime client of a bank then he might be able to receive some favorable terms when it come to contracting a loan. Getting the loan using the services of the broker means that you need to pay a fee, while contacting the bank directly will remove that fee. Remember that in the end the bank is the one that sets the interest rate, so the broker is basically a middleman that will help you find the best deal without worrying. However, this comes with a cost.

To sum up, you need to figure out how much time you have to speak with the lenders and take care of the paperwork. If you can do that on your own, then the services of a mortgage broker are not required, but if don’t have the time to do that, then the broker might be a good option. It’s a good idea to find out the fees first, so you won’t end up with unpleasant surprises.

manual-therapy

What Is Manual Physiotherapy?

Manual therapy is a practice that has become very popular in the last few years. Manual therapy is mainly an approach used by physical therapists to find out the causes of the injury and then treat the joint structures as well as the soft tissues, with the final purpose being of modulating pain, eliminating any tissue inflammations and so on.

Moreover, manual therapy is also useful if you want to facilitate movement, improve various body functions and induce a sense of relaxation, something that is needed in a stressful society such as ours.

Manual therapy is basically a way of performing therapeutic techniques without the use of technical equipment. Instead, people known as manual therapists use their own hands to treat injuries or joint problems for example.

A manual therapist is a person that has an advanced training as a physical therapist and which, of course, has obtained a certificate in this field of work. This means that a physical therapist has a lot of knowledge regarding clinical terms and conditions.

There are different types of manual therapy that can be performed. One of the most popular ones is mobilization and manipulation. This one includes different types of high velocity and small amplitude therapeutic movement, all of them combined with the main purpose of helping you move better and easier.

Then there’s the muscle energy technique that specifically uses the contraction of the patient muscles against a counterforce from a certain position towards a certain direction. This particular technique is suitable for engaging the joint restriction barrier without stressing it.

Moreover, there’s the strain-counterstrain technique which places the body in a position of comfort with the sole purpose relieving pain by reduction.

Another technique that is very popular is the soft tissue mobilization that breaks the restrictions between muscles and decreases hypertonus. The hypertonus is usually associated with muscle tightness, which can cause different problems.

The high velocity, low amplitude thrusting techniques is another one suitable for joints, this time it makes it easy to restore the gliding motion of your joints so you can close and open them efficiently. It’s a little more aggressive than the other one, but if it’s used properly it brings a decrease in the muscle tone as well as an increase in mobility.

However, manual physiotherapy can’t solve all problems, that’s why patients are always encouraged to use various types of treatments. Combining these with exercises for back pain and some aerobic can definitely improve the condition, as this is a great exercise for any patient.

In the end, the main goal of the manual physiotherapy is to help the body recover from stress or any other issue. By combining it with other activities you will have the opportunity of living a much better and healthier life.

Electric-Car

Going on a Road Trip in an Electric Car

With range still being a huge issue surrounding electric cars, they are clearly far from ideal vehicles for long-distance trips, but it doesn’t mean that going on a road trip in an EV is a mission impossible. While most people would not dare to start such an adventure, given that electric cars are more suitable for city driving, or for short-range commutes, because of their limited range, longer trips in an electric vehicle are actually quite feasible, as long as you plan your route accordingly and make sure you use driving techniques and behavior that help extend your car’s range.

Obviously, the biggest challenge of an electric car road trip is finding charging stations along the route, and recharging your car’s battery as quickly as possible, so you don’t have to take long breaks too often. Maybe a couple of years ago, this was an issue that was difficult to get around, but now, there is a relatively good charging infrastructure, albeit only in certain parts of the country, which allows you to cover longer distances in a reasonable time. Even so, you must choose a route that will allow you to be near a charging station during the whole trip, so that you don’t get stranded with an empty battery, and no station in sight.

If you are driving through an area that doesn’t have any charging stations, you can go to an RV park, since most such parks have designated spaces with hookups, that usually provide RVs with electricity, but can also be used to charge electric vehicles. No matter how many stations there are along your route, bringing an emergency recharging kit along is always a smart move. It’s basically a device that is called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, which includes a portable charging cable and a couple of power adapters, allowing you to connect your car to a standard household outlet, and recharge your battery fairly quickly. This way, you will get enough range to get to the nearest charging station and fully charge your battery, before you can continue your trip.

Another factor you need to take into account when driving long distances in an electric car, is that your driving habits and road conditions may affect your car’s range. There are a few driving habits that can drain your battery pretty quickly, such as fast acceleration and hitting the brakes too hard, and driving at high speeds for longer periods of time. Additionally, excessive use of the car’s air conditioner decreases range, as well. Climbing hills, and driving in stop and go traffic can cause a battery to go empty much sooner than expected.

Even with all these challenges and the extensive planning that is required, electric car road trips can be quite fun and fulfilling, given that one of the biggest downsides of electric cars – long recharge times, can make your trip that much more rewarding, as it will give you some extra time to stop and enjoy the beautiful sights and discover some new places along the road.

zero-waste-movement

5 Steps to a Zero Waste Home

When it comes to helping the planet, every little helps and whilst attitudes have changed in recent years with the use of household recycling bins and the rise of the reusable bag, there is still much work to do in order to achieve a ‘waste less’ society. Here we reveal the five steps every household can take to cut waste…

 1. Love food, hate waste

Food waste puts a huge burden on our landfill sites, and a recent survey showed that over a quarter of waste thrown away by UK households is food. With rising food costs, you’d think that everyone would take on a ‘waste not, want not’ approach, however as a nation we are still buying and throwing away too much food.

Being savvier when it comes to food shopping is the best step to reducing food waste and the amount that you spend at the checkout. Take a look in your cupboards before you leave to see what you need and write a list concentrating on creating meals for the week ahead.

2. A bag is for life…

Talks are still underway regarding enforcing a charge for the plastic bags found in the supermarket, and whilst the reusable ‘bag for life’ has risen in popularity, many people still rely on using plastic bags. We understand that it’s not always easy to remember your bag for life every time you hit the shops but by carrying one in your car, you will always have a bag for life to hand. Cloth bags also work too!

3. Recycle or reuse

As well as household waste, many individuals throw their household furniture and fixtures in the trash too. Instead of visiting your local tip, aim to recycle or reuse these items. There are many ways in which you can recycle household goods, kerbside recycling schemes pick up unwanted items or you could give something back by donating to charity.

4. Profit from your recycling prowess

There’s even an opportunity to earn a quick buck from unwanted household goods, salvage yards pay good money for good quality items. These items will then be sold on to their customers, who are certain to repurpose and breathe new life into products that you find tired or unusable in your own home.

5. Say ‘no’ to junk mail

Whilst many of us have become pros at recycling paper goods, there is still 550,000 tonnes of paper used to create unsolicited mail in the UK alone. If we all work together to say ‘no’ to junk mail, we could save over 9 million trees and 16.5 billion litres of water! Use a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker to tell your postman and other visitors that your home is no place for junk mail.

This post was written by the UK’s leading salvage and reclamation specialist Cheshire Demolition. Their Macclesfield-based yard is the perfect place to buy and sell unwanted household items.

washing-car-kids

Reducing Your Impact on the Environment When Washing the Car

There are many ways in which we are harming the environment and waste resources on daily basis, but few of us consider car maintenance (and the associated costs) to be one of them.  For instance, car washing has a huge impact on the environment, since it wastes huge amounts of water, and the wash water that is created in the process, containing petroleum, dirt, oil, cleaning agents, goes into storm drains, which then carry it to the nearest water bodies. That’s why people should be very careful when they wash their cars in their yards, and do whatever they can to avoid polluting nearby bodies of water and wasting large amounts of water while doing it.

When washing your car at home and in your garage, you probably don’t think too much about where the wash water goes, or how much water is wasted. The waste water contains various potential pollutants, such as rubber, mud, detergents, grease, and it usually enters storm drain systems, that transport it to lakes, rivers, or oceans. Alternatively, it can also go directly into the ground, which also pollutes the environment. As far as the amount of water that is wasted, various studies suggest that on average, people waste 10 gallons of water per minute when washing their cars in their yards.

If you want to save some water while washing your car, you should try and follow a few simple tips.

For starters, you can put a quick-action shut-off nozzle on your hose, or a trigger hose, to prevent wasting water when the faucet is on, but you don’t need to use the hose. Also, you can save a lot of water if you use a bucket.

When it comes to the wash water and what to do with it, it’s important to know how to dispose of it properly. A lot of things depend on the area you wash your car on. If you wash it on your driveway, the waste water will probably run into a roadside drainage ditch, a gutter or a curb inlet, which means it will end up in a nearby lake or river. That’s why it’s better to do it on your lawn. This way, the wash water will run off directly into the ground, and you prevent it from flowing into the street and entering the drains. However, you need to be very careful when washing your car on your lawn or garden area, and prevent the waste water from running off into an area that’s close to your vegetables or fruit trees.

The best way to save water and prevent wastewater from entering your storm drains is to take your car to a commercial car washing facility, where water is treated before it is disposed. They clean the water, removing all pollutants that may harm the environment, and then discharge it in the sewer. They also recycle it and reuse it several times before disposal. Additionally, they waste much less water, as they use more sophisticated, automated equipment, which is far more efficient than using hoses and buckets.

bamboo-wood-energy

How to Lower Your Home’s Energy Consumption

As homeowners, we’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption and in turn lower costly heating and electricity bills, which can easily spiral out of control in the autumn and winter months when plummeting temperatures hit our homes.

We have compiled our top five ways to reduce energy consumption within your home so you can look forward to more manageable costs all year round…

Alter your everyday habits

The first and perhaps most important step of reducing your household’s energy consumption and carbon footprint is by altering how you operate on a daily basis. Just a few simple changes can dramatically cut your energy costs resulting in major savings for you and your family.

When appliances and other gadgets are not in use, unplug and save energy. Even when everyday household items like televisions and audio equipment are in standby mode, electricity is still being used so prevent this by hitting the off switch. Computers are a major consumer of energy so customise your sleep mode to conserve electricity. Lighting can also drain your energy supplies, don’t forget to switch these off when you leave the room.

Control temperature throughout your home

Making use of the thermostatic valves on your radiators and the timer features on your boiler will ensure that all heat generated is used effectively within your property. Adapt your temperature controls from room to room, lowering your temperature in areas of your home that you use less such as spare bedrooms. Rooms that are prone to high humidity such as your kitchen, bathroom and utility room will also require less heat as heat is generated naturally via showering, bathing, washing dishes and clothes, and cooking.

In addition to this, your timer can be adjusted to regulate temperature at different times of the day so you use less energy when in bed or at work.

Invest in humidification

The main reason why you increase the temperature of your central heating system is to enhance your property’s warmth and comfort, however, you can achieve a more comfortable atmosphere without increasing your heating bill. Humidifiers can be used to add moisture to your home environment and create a more comfortable ambience. Humid air also holds heat better ensuring any heat generated by your radiators and other energy sources is retained effectively and efficiently.

Investing in a home humidifier won’t break the bank, and will make sure you feel the effects of a well heated home without having to ramp up the temperature.

Take advantage of energy saving appliances

Many modern appliances are equipped with handy energy saving features which many homeowners fail to take advantage of. Computers, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines can be switched to power saving mode to conserve energy by making more efficient use of the appliance. Take a closer look at the settings of your home appliances to make energy saving a priority in your home.

Energy saving bulbs are also available and will dramatically cut costs year on year.

Insulate your home thoroughly

A well-insulated property will retain energy more effectively and prevent costly heat loss. Make sure your attic space and cavity walls are sufficiently insulated and windows and doors throughout your home are sealed correctly to avoid waste and high energy bills.

About the author – Martin Davies works for Airandwatercentre.com. As the leading specialists in humidification and air quality, they assist thousands of homeowners across the globe looking for more energy efficient and comfortable properties.