• Decorative Concrete Finishes: a Picture Glossary

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    Concrete is not just for sidewalks these days. In fact, with the development of special decorative techniques, concrete is revolutionizing home decor. This durable and affordable substance can be used for a multitude of applications indoors and out. Strikingly handsome concrete patios, pool surrounds, garden paths, flooring, walls, and even kitchen or bathroom countertops show off just how versatile concrete can be. Here is a glossary explaining the most popular finishes used to create decorative concrete. Acid stained -- treated with permanent, durable color, usually in earthy shades like greens or browns. A solution of inorganic salts, acid, and water is applied to poured and cured concrete. The resultant translucent stain gives

  • Know Your HVAC System Components and How They Work

    Updated: Sun, Nov 23, 2014

    An efficient HVAC system is important to the comfort of your family throughout the seasons of the year, because this climate control device is responsible for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning your home. Learn the basic facts about essential components of your HVAC system andfind out the role each one plays in keeping the household and its members warm in winter and cool in summer. 1. Thermostat. The thermostat is usually the most visible part of your HVAC system. Set on a prominent, easily accessible wall, it may be either programmed in advance or set manually to keep the home at a desired temperature.

  • How Cold Indoor Temperatures Can Harm Your Health

    Updated: Wed, Nov 19, 2014

    Baby it's cold inside! When winter comes along, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends indoor temperatures of at least 64 degrees F, and raises that to 70 degrees for households which include infants, elderly members, or frail individuals. Whether due to inadequate insulation or an inefficient heating system, an underheated home feels chilly and unwelcoming. Even worse, cold temperatures inside can have a decidedly negative effect on your health. Respiratory Problems It's a simple equation. Cold interior home temperatures plus an accumulation of moisture equals condensation, which in turn can lead to mold. Mold inhalation is bad, bad news for a whole host of respiratory problems such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, emph

  • Porcelain or Ceramic Tile -- Which Is for You?

    Updated: Tue, Nov 18, 2014

    Do you think that porcelain and ceramic tile are essentially the same? Well, you may be surprised to find that they are not. Although both are manufactured of similar ingredients using similar processes, there are some important differences. Familiarize yourself with the characteristics of each of these tile types so that you can choose the kind that offers the right price, durability, and good looks for your tiling project. What is the difference? The difference is in the details. Ceramic tile is manufactured from red or white clay mixed with water and minerals, then baked in a type of kiln. It is nearly always finished with a glaze to reduce its natural porosity.

  • Surprising Energy Vampires and How to Subdue Them

    Updated: Mon, Nov 17, 2014

    Is your home playing host to evil energy vampires? Beware! Also known as a "phantom," an energy vampire is a nick-name for any electrical device or appliance that consumes power even when it is on stand-by mode … or turned off completely! As long as it is connected to the power source, it will continue to slowly suck electricity. This wastes power and your hard-earned cash. Why does saving electricity matter? Conserving electricity is vitally important for the health of our environment. Electricity generation was responsible for 32 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, more than any other source. Greenhouse gases act to trap heat and contribute to global warming.

  • Want to Prevent Frozen Pipes? Here's How.

    Updated: Sun, Nov 16, 2014

    When outdoor temperatures drop and cold winds blow, your water pipes are in danger. Inclement conditions can cause them to freeze. Or rather, the water inside will freeze, expanding as it does so. The ice thus formed acts as a plug. It blocks the pipe and causes pressure to build up between the frozen section and the closed faucet further downstream. This pressure, not the freezing itself, may cause the pipes to burst eventually, creating one heck of a mess in your home. The good news is that frozen and burst pipes can be prevented, with a bit of simple maintenance. Insulation Safeguard pipes against freezing by protecting them from cold, windy conditions, ideally before winter begins. Start with insulation.

  • Space-Saving Fixtures Scaled to Fit Small Bathrooms

    Updated: Sun, Nov 16, 2014

    What do rural tiny homes, new suburban houses, and old apartments smack dab in the center of the city have in common? Most were built with bathrooms that can politely be termed minuscule. If this describes your dwelling, a bathroom remodel -- or ideally, a bathroom transplant! -- may be at the top of your home improvement priorities list. While your washroom will never be as enormous as an over-the-top celebrity bath, you can still achieve a comfortable, even luxurious effect. Shave off inches wherever possible but don't compromise on quality. The secret is scale ... using first-rate, smaller-sized fixtures that match the room's proportions and maximize every bit of space.

  • Pressure Washers Give Impressively Clean, Green Results

    Updated: Wed, Nov 12, 2014

    Pressure washers are amazingly handy tools. They work by forcing water at extremely high pressure across the surface that you need to deep clean, a technique that's eco-friendly, fast, and suitable for many outdoor maintenance jobs. It saves time and effort, and is suitable even for homeowners with physical limitations like arthritis. A pressure washer can be used on your home's exterior, patio or deck, sidewalk, driveway, garage doors and flooring, swimming pool surround, vehicle or boat, outdoor furniture, gutters, stairs, or fence … the possibilities are almost endless. Types of Pressure Washers If you anticipate using a pressure washer frequently, you might want to go ahead and buy one. Otherwise, they may be rente

  • The Homeowner's Guide to Tile Grout

    Updated: Mon, Nov 10, 2014

    Today, trendy tile is used as an eye-catching decorative feature, covering walls, floors, countertops, and backsplashes in some of the most striking homes in town. But no matter how gorgeous the tile may be, it is only as good as its grout. Grout is the substance which fills the spaces between your tiles and seals their joints. Learn how to choose, clean, and repair this important element of your home tile decor. Choose a Grout Color Homeowners are no longer confined to the standard white and off-white shades of grout. These days there is a whole panorama of literally hundreds of colors available, from soft and subtle to boldly bright.

  • Do's and Don'ts to Reduce Paper Use at Home or Work

    Updated: Thu, Nov 6, 2014

    Even though we live in an increasingly digitized world, an astounding 69 million tons of paper and paperboard are produced annually in the US. Although Americans have a commendable track record in recycling paper (about 65 percent!), thre's even more you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and the amount of paper that ends up in landfills. Follow these simple tips to cut your paper consumption at home and at work. DO track your use of paper to see where wastage can be lessened. DO buy recycled paper. Even toilet paper comes in a recycled version. DO purchase thinner paper for your printing and stationery. DO reuse envelopes. Cover the old address with a label made from recycled paper. DON'T print single-s

  • Humidifier, Dehumidifier -- Which Do You Need?

    Updated: Wed, Nov 5, 2014

    Too dry in winter, too damp in summer … does this describe the air in your house? If, like Goldilocks, you're looking for something that's just right, a humidifier or dehumidifier may do the job. The ideal relative humidity inside the home is 30-60 percent, depending on the season. You can measure it with a device called a hydrometer. In winter, use of your heating system is likely to bring the humidity down to 30-40 percent, while in summer, it may rise as high as 60 percent. When relative humidity sinks below 30, a humidifier (which adds moisture to the air) will make your family more comfortable, while a dehumidifier (which extracts moisture) will do the trick if it's over 50.

  • Straight Set vs. Offset Tile: The Home Fashion Facts

    Updated: Wed, Nov 5, 2014

    Tile is one of the biggest decor fashion trends of the decade. Savvy home decorators are using this lovely, versatile material in kitchens, bathrooms, and all around the house. Besides the wide array of attractive colors and patterns available, the way your tile is installed will add interest and express your personality. Learn about the terminology of tile installation and the fabulous effects you can achieve with different methods of setting tile. Straight Set Tile  Straight set tile (or "straight lay") does not refer to a specific type of tile, but rather to a process of tile installation. Either square or rectangular tiles are set square to the wall in parallel rows. This is the simplest way to install tile, and is g

  • Green Glossary of Home Heating and Cooling

    Updated: Sun, Nov 2, 2014

    In the typical American home, heating and cooling account for close to 50 percent of all energy use. This means that regulating your household temperature can cost you a bundle in terms of fuel bills, and add appreciably to your carbon footprint. However, it's possible to increase the efficiency of your HVAC system by as much as a surprising 20 percent, using green techniques. Here's a glossary of home heating and cooling terms to help you understand how to go more eco-friendly. Air Sealing: Treatment of a building to prevent leakage of interior or exterior air. Attic Fan: Thermostat-controlled, roof-mounted fan. It cools the attic and the roof in order to reduce air conditioning expenses and extend the lifespan of roofing sh

  • 9 Fixes for Ugly Floors in a Rental Home

    Updated: Sun, Nov 2, 2014

    Without a doubt, there can be plenty of advantages to renting, rather than buying, a home. Freedom to decorate as you please isn't usually one of them, though. That's too bad, since your rental is likely to be decked out in Early Bland (if you're fortunate) or Downright Dismal (if you're less than blessed). One of the largest areas of your new home sweet home, in terms of square footage, is its floor. When the flooring is impractical and ugly, it's going to have a huge impact on the looks of your apartment … and your feelings about living there. How can you fix it up to be an attractive, functional reflection of your personal style? (Cheap and easy are musts.) Here 9 questions that will help you figure out the best hack for your s

  • Murals Add an Artistic Touch to Home Decor

    Updated: Thu, Oct 30, 2014

    Are you an artist in your heart? If so, you most probably use your home as a canvas to express your free-spirited style. A design trend that may appeal to you is decorating one wall in your house with an eye-catching mural. This is an affordable home hack that allows you to stamp your space with an exciting splash of color and unique personality. There are a number of ways to add a mural to your house's décor. Why Decorate with a Mural The most common reason for decorating with a mural is to add a personal touch. This may be especially important to artistic souls who are living in condos or tract housing. With an impressionist masterpiece on your living room wall or a cascading waterfall in the master bath, you'll fee