Archive for December, 2009

Bathroom Heater Options Overview

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Stepping out of a hot shower into a chilly bathroom is not something anyone wants to experience. The amount of heat delivered through the typical HVAC system just isn’t sufficient to take the edge off on winter days. That’s one reason many homeowners opt to install an additional heater in their bathrooms.

Which One Should You Choose?

Any space heater will do the job, but safety is important in a wet environment. Ideally, you should purchase a model that is specifically designed to be used in a moist environment. The unit should be small enough that it won’t eat up too much space or come into contact with flammable objects.

Ease of installation is another big factor. Complications may arise when you need a power switch to work in conjunction with the existing electrical system. This is often a concern when installing wall panel, baseboard radiant strip or ceiling bathroom heaters as DIY projects.

To avoid this problem, you might choose a fan based or portable convection heater that is UL listed as safe for use in a bathroom. Perhaps you would be satisfied with simply having a warm towel on hand when you get out of the tub. Towel warmers are available in designs that are as inexpensive or as fancy as you like. Some can be plugged directly into an existing outlet – eliminating the need for rewiring of any kind.

For real luxury, consider radiant in-floor heating. This is a fairly energy efficient option that can keep your toes toasty warm. However, it is usually only a suitable choice if you were already planning a major remodel. It requires tearing out and replacing the existing floor as well as adding wiring that may require expert help from a licensed electrician.

How Much Heat Do You Need?

Regardless of which type of bathroom heater you buy, make sure the device is powerful enough to do the job. The basic rule is that the heater should use 12 to 15 watts to heat 1 square foot of bathroom space. This means that a 1500 watt heater should be adequate for a 10’ by 12’ space. If you have more room than this, you need a more powerful piece of equipment – perhaps one using 3000 watts.

Wallpapering Ceilings

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

You should always use two people when wallpapering the ceiling. Make sure you use heavy duty adhesive and give yourself plenty of time to complete the job. If you are using the same paper on the walls, paper the ceiling first and make sure to match the seams from ceiling to walls.

Step1: PRIME AND PATCH THE CEILING

Lay out the paper on the ceiling so that the strips will overlap the wall by about ½ inch. When you lay out the strip, hold a roll of paper against the ceiling at one side of the room. Now, mark on the ceiling ½ inch from the end of the roll. Go the the other side and make a similar mark.

Step2: SNAP A CHALK LINE CONNECTING THE TWO MARKS.

You will want to use blue chalk because red chalk will bleed through the paper. Cut a strip of paper to the exact length and then apply wallpaper paste activator.

Step3: WORKING IN SMALL SECTIONS, POSITION THE STRIP AGAINST THE GUIDELINE

Make sure you overlap the side wall by ½ inch and the end walls by 2 inches. Take a smooth brush and flatten the strip as you work. If you are going to cover the walls with the same paper, trim the ceiling wallpaper so it overlaps the wall by ½ inch. If you are not covering the walls then trim the excess by holding a broad knife against the corner and cutting with a razor knife.

Step4: CUT OUT A SMALL WEDGE OF WALLPAPER IN THE CORNER SO THAT THE STRIP WILL LIE SMOOTH.

Press the wallpaper into the corner with a broad knife.

Wallpapering Walls

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Preparing the walls is as important as hanging the paper. If the surface is greasy or dirty, the paper won’t stick. Also, if there are irregularities in the wall, they may be visible on the paper’s surface. So be prepared: Wash, patch, fix, prime, seal, and size before you paper. The good thing is primers, sealers, and sizing are combined into a single product. Paint and plaster companies market many wall repair kits.

Step1: PATCH AND PRIME THE WALLS BEFORE YOU START

Primer can be white, clear, or tinted slightly to match the paper. When you have finished priming, look at the paper you selected. The pattern type determines how the strips are cut and glued on the walls. On straight-match and random-match papers, patterns along the left and right edges of the paper are the same, and the installation is straight forward.  On drop-match papers, the elements are staggered along both edges.  Aligning the pattern results in an uneven top edge, which get’s trimmed.  This will take more time and you will waste more paper but results in a  more interesting and fun patern. Cutting alternating strips from two rolls  of wallpaper will cut down on some of the wallpaper waste.

Step2: BEGIN IN THE LEAST-CONSPICUOUS INSIDE CORNER OF THE ROOM

You should position the first strip so that most of the paper is on the first wall to be pampered, with about 1/2 to 2 inches of the strip wrapping around the corner onto the adjoining wall. This helps hide the cracks they may develop in the corners. When you measure the strip, you will need to lay out the strip and measure it from the corner by the width of the paper minus the wrap. Draw a plumb line at this point, guided by a level.

Step3: CUT THE FIRST STRIP OF PAPER

You will need to cut it about 4 inches longer than needed so that it can temporarily overlap the ceiling baseboard. Then roll out the paper on a long work surface and cut the strip to length with scissors.

Step4: APPLY ACTIVATOR OR PASTE

It’s recommended to use a paste activator instead of soaking prepasted paper: It’s a stronger bond and it takes longer to dry so you can continue to move the paper around on the wall. Brush or roll on the activator. Make sure you follow the directions for the activator as well. Also, make sure you get paste ACTIVATOR not paste!

Step5: GENTLY FOLD THE ENDS TOWARD THE MIDDLE,

glued sides together with the patterned side out. The term used for this is “booking the strip”. Try not to crease the paper. Wait at least 1 minute so the paste has a chance to activate before hanging it.

Step6: HANG THE FIRST STRIP ALONG THE PLUMB LINE WITH A GENTLE BUT FIRM HAND

Start by positioning the middle of the strip, and work your way up to the top, sliding the paper to align it. Align the bottom and work it gently against the wall. Now, start from the top and work your way down the wall and smooth the paper onto the wall with a brush or a flexable plastic smoother.

Step7: HANG THE SECOND STRIP AND THEN TRIM THE FIRST

Allow the glue to dry on the first strip while you hang the second one. Then when you are done hanging it, you can go back and trim the first strip.

Step8: BUTT SUBSEQUENT STRIPS AGAINST EACH OTHER

When you have finished hanging a few strips, go over the seams between them with a seam roller to fix the edges in place. Be careful not to force too much paste out from under the strips or your seams will loosen. Use clean warm water and a sponge to remove excess paste from the wall. Do not use a roller on foils, flocked, or embossed papers because it may damage it. Instead, press along the seams with a smoothing brush.

Step9: PAPER OVER ELECTRIC SWITCHES AND OUTLETS

Cut away excess paper. Before you cut around an electrical box, make sure you turn the power off to the room. Make four diagonal slices, starting at the center of the box and working toward corners. Trim and make a rectangular opening, leave enough paper for the cover plate to conceal the edges.

Is Ivy Eating Your Siding?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Do you love the thought of having lovely green vines growing over the siding on your home? Your romantic ideas about living in a quaint, ivy covered cottage can be shattered when you learn the truth about the damage it can cause. Heavy plant growth provides an ideal environment for moisture to collect and cause permanent staining on your siding.

Permeable surfaces like brick and stucco offer a foothold for the root-like tendrils of vines. These don’t just cling to the surface, they work their way into the façade materials – especially mortar. As the tendrils grow and expand, they can cause these types of siding to deteriorate. Ivy can also work its runners between vinyl and wood siding panels, gradually separating them.

Ivy Removal

If you already have ivy growing on your siding, removing it can be difficult. The suckers cling tenaciously to any surface. Start by cutting all the vines off where they root into the ground. Allow several weeks for the plants to die back. Keep checking these roots since the ivy will try to send runners back down to the soil to re-root.

Pull off as much of the vines as you can. This will expose the dense network of runners and sucker pads still clinging to your siding. Power washing can remove some of these, but be prepared to do some heavy duty scrubbing by hand too.

Refinishing Your Siding

Sand and repaint wood siding as a final step. You may be able to scrub stains off vinyl siding using a weak bleach solution. Just check for color fastness in a non-conspicuous area first. Brick will probably require mortar repairs. Stucco may need to be patched and painted.

Flooring Your Sunroom

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Sunroom FlooringSunrooms are often added later in the life of a house. This means you may not be able to exactly match the flooring in this type of addition to what you already have in other areas of your home. Tile, carpet, and other products are often produced in “lots” that vary from one run to the next. So, finding an option that simply compliments your existing flooring is your best bet.

Laminates

Faux wood and tile laminates are the least expensive flooring options. They are easy to keep clean. If you expect mud to be tracked into your sunroom, consider one of these materials. They can look very nice if you choose a durable, name brand product.

Carpet

If you plan on using your sunroom as a cozy conservatory, you may wish to carpet it. High quality UV blocking glass will reduce carpet’s tendency to fade in the sun. Select a stain resistant indoor/outdoor product for this area if you have kids or pets.

Tile

This is a classic flooring material for sunrooms. However, it will be chilly underfoot until the sun warms it up. Add textured throw rugs made from natural fibers such as sisal or coconut to wake your feet up. Or, install under-floor heating to make this flooring more comfortable.

Wood

Depending on the style of your sunroom, you may want a natural wood deck surface underfoot. The darker you stain it, the more warmth it will absorb from the sun. Seal it just as you would an outdoor deck to keep out moisture. Apply a scratch resistant finish to keep the wood looking nice.

Concrete

Are you having a fresh concrete slab poured for your sunroom? If so, it won’t have blemishes like adhesive residue or scratches typically found after pulling up existing carpet or tile. This means the concrete surface will be in perfect condition for glazing – a very modern effect.