Archive for January, 2010

Pros and Cons of Fiber Cement Siding

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

If you are replacing siding on your home, there are a number of factors to consider. You will want to balance durability, functionality and practicality with cost for this project. Fiber cement siding is a viable option. It is made from sand, cement, and cellulose fiber.


Fiber cement siding is available in many different textures and sizes to imitate other types of home exterior materials. It can come in planks or sheets that look similar to wood or stucco. It is more fire resistant than most other siding products. It requires very little maintenance, and it will not rot or corrode.

Many manufacturers offer a 50 year warranty on fiber cement siding (with proper installation). Usually, only one coat of acrylic paint is required for full coverage over this surface. You can expect the paint to last at least 10-15 years.


Although the manufacturers provide installation and handling instructions, working with this material requires intermediate to advanced skill level. The pieces can be difficult to maneuver because of their extreme weight. Special saw blades are needed to cut the siding sections to the correct size.

The dust created by cutting through the siding can be hazardous if inhaled. Air filtration devices may be required for optimal safety and health. Dust collecting power tools are recommended. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of working with this material yourself, hire a qualified contractor.

Adding a Wet Bar to Your Kitchen

Friday, January 29th, 2010

A wet bar is a very useful addition to your home if you entertain regularly. The best spot for your wet bar depends on where you have an available water supply. That’s why kitchens are an optimal location – you can simply extend an existing line to bring water to the bar sink. This makes installation simple and relatively inexpensive.

You can make your wet bar a free-standing island or build it onto the end of a counter. Installing it as an extension to your breakfast counter is another option. Just be sure to leave enough room for a walkway at the end. Otherwise the flow of traffic into and out of your kitchen may be impeded – something you definitely don’t want during a party.

To maintain consistency, it is best to apply the decor theme from the rest of your kitchen to your wet bar. You may also add a few more exotic touches. Try an ornate chrome faucet, drawers with vintage glass pull knobs, or a marble counter top to give the area a sophisticated look.

Wet Bar Essentials

Besides a sink, there are a few things you should definitely include in a fully functional wet bar. An ice maker, a refrigeration unit, and storage space for glasses are must have items. Depending on your beverage preferences, you may also want a wine rack or a full-fledged liquor cabinet.

Don’t feel like you have to add an ice bucket, espresso machine, and other accessories unless you have enough room. You don’t want your wet bar to be cluttered.

Putting Contact Paper in Your Kitchen Cabinets

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Contact paper is a useful item for redecorating kitchens. It can be used in cabinets and on pantry shelving to provide semi-permanent protection from scratches and stains. High quality contact paper can be easily wiped down and sanitized. It can be installed in old or new cabinets on top of the bare particle board or over a coat of paint.

You can choose contact paper in a wide variety of patterns and colors. If your cabinet exteriors are painted white, a bright gingham or flowered contact paper provides a surprising contrast. There also specialized types of film lining that are skid resistant or have bug repellant properties.

Removing/Replacing Old Contact Paper

Is there already contact paper in place that you don’t really like? You aren’t stuck with it. A few removal tricks can make redecoration quick and painless. Use a hair dryer to warm the surface of the old contact paper and restore some flexibility in the plastic film.

The heat will also melt the underlying adhesive just enough so that a corner will easily peel back. From that corner, you can work the hair dryer gradually over the entire surface. Pull the contact paper off at the same time with your other hand. Work slowly so that the old paper is less likely to split into fragments as you peel it off. Once the paper is removed, residual adhesive needs to be wiped away. Use ‘Goo Gone’ or another citrus type cleaner.

Let the surface dry completely before attempting to put in the new contact paper. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. Use a soft cloth to smooth the surface of the paper with gentle pressure from the palm of your hand.

Once all the bubbles are gone from underneath the paper, carefully trim away any excess with a pair of sharp scissors. A nice even edge on the contact paper will make your kitchen cabinets look professionally redone.

How to Make Roof Turbines Stop Squeaking

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Attic ventilation is extremely important. It keeps heat and moisture from accumulating in your home. Because spinning roof turbines (whirlybirds) have moving parts, they will eventually experience some kind of mechanical failure. You’ll know it is time to take action when you hear the annoying squeak or notice that a turbine is not moving anymore.

To access the turbine and fix the problem, you need to get on top of the roof. Remember to use proper safety procedures and be cautious. Bring along a can of WD-40 and some silicon based lubricant or sprayable lithium grease.

First, spray the pivot point with WD-40. This solvent should free the mechanism. While the problem may seem to be solved, that little squirt will not last for long. You need to grease/lubricate the pivot point for a more permanent solution.

Replacement Options

If this quick fix fails (or you must do it repeatedly), it is time to replace the whole turbine with a newer ventilation mechanism. You don’t necessarily have to purchase another whirlybird. There are some devices such as flat roof vents or Aura Vents that work without any moving parts. You just need to make sure that the product you choose will adequately handle sufficient air volume.

If you do decide to replace your roof turbine with another whirlybird, buy one that has permanently sealed ball bearings or plastic bushings. It is usually the ones with cheap metal bushings that begin to squeak within a few years of installation.


Window and Patio Door Security

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Windows and sliding glass patio doors on the first floor of a residence are among the most vulnerable home entry points. A determined thief can break the glass to get inside. However, most criminals don’t want to attract that much attention. There are many security strategies you can use to inconvenience, slow down, or call attention to a potential burglar.

Connect all windows and doors to a central alarm system. If a burglar decides to enter anyway, the time he has available to locate and carry out anything of value is greatly reduced. Place alarm company stickers on your windows as another disincentive.

Many standard patio door locking mechanisms are merely clasps. These simple contraptions can easily be forced with a screwdriver, pry bar, or even a butter knife. Simply placing a properly sized dowel rod or length of PVC pipe directly in the track of sliding patio door can discourage a would-be burglar. Removing the handles from casement windows is another quick fix

Install sturdier locking devices to serve as a backup. Track grips, pins, keyed sash locks and slide bolts, anti-sliding blocks/wedges, and specialty keyed locks are some of your available options. These are available at any home improvement store.

As a last resort, replace your windows with tempered or wired glass. Although this is an expensive solution, any attempt to break in through the glass will be extremely difficult and noisy. Burglar bars are another high-end solution.