Month: July 2018

6 Bathroom Floor Trends That Really Shine

The bathroom is one place in the home where you should attempt to stay on trend. Homeowners, buyers and sellers care about the look and functionality of this space, and you should too. The floors are especially important because they’re one of the first things you see when you walk in the room and get a lot of foot traffic.

A bathroom floor will be admired for its shine and color, but you should also consider how well it’ll hold up in this particular environment and how much work it’ll be to maintain. I’ve got six big and shiny ideas for your next bathroom floor makeover.

1. Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is a new category of flooring that’s going to be big in 2016. This flooring choice combines the high-end look of hardwood (or stone) with the durability of vinyl. One of the most popular options among homeowners is vinyl that mimics the look of wood.

This material is a natural fit in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms because it stands up to moisture, and it looks pretty. A low maintenance floor that’s warm to the touch and soft underfoot? If you ask me, it sounds like an excellent choice for any bathroom!

2. Laminate

Laminate is always a sensible choice for the bathroom floor. This material can handle high volumes of traffic and will keep its composure for an extended amount of time. One benefit of laminate flooring is that you’re able to combine the look of hardwood with a surface that’s resistant to both stains and moisture.

Installing a new laminate floor is an easy and affordable way to upgrade your bathroom without having to completely gut the entire space. Given the array of realistic-looking wood and stone patterns available in stores, it makes it very difficult for anyone to tell that it’s not the real thing. Although laminate is tough, you should be careful to keep the floors as dry as possible because there’s a possibility of standing water to seep through the seams.

3. Bamboo & Cork

If you’re looking for environmentally friendly bathroom floors, then this is the right choice for you. Bamboo and cork are unique materials made from tree-like tropical grasses that replenish themselves in the wild every couple of years.

Bamboo is specifically known for its durability and warmth. This material is not only affordable, but plays nicely with both traditional and modern spaces. Engineered bamboo planks are by far the most durable bamboo floors and the best at withstanding wet environments. The one downside of engineered bamboo is that once it wears, it can’t be refinished; it needs to be replaced. On the other hand, solid bamboo floors can be refinished, but they’re more susceptible to water damage. Decisions, decisions.

Cork flooring is great for walking on with bare feet because of its warmth and cushion. It’s a durable material that retains heat better than tile or wood. It’s easier to install than wood flooring, but it doesn’t have as long of a shelf life. Cork is a good option for rooms that get a lot of foot traffic, like the bathroom.

4. Large-Format Tile

Typically tile floors are installed using 12” x 12” tiles, but more and more designers are remodeling with tiles that come 12″ x 24″ and even 36″ x 36.” Consumers and industry professionals alike agree that they look great and are easier to clean because there are less grout lines to scrub.

Experts don’t recommend installing large tile floors yourself. They’re heavy and require a perfectly level substrate, so if you want it done right, you should hire a professional for the job. Below are three popular types of tile you should consider in your search.

Ceramic Tile: Comes in various sizes, shapes and styles. A good option for mimicking natural stone. Textured designs help prevent slippage.

Porcelain Tile: This option is more durable and less porous because it’s fired at higher temperatures than ceramic. It’s very easy to clean and maintain.

Stone Tile: Natural stone lends a high-end look to a bathroom. This tile is usually made from travertine, limestone, marble, granite or slate. It’s a timeless, unique and durable flooring option.

5. Heated Floors

As the days get shorter and temperatures cool, what more could you want than to step on heated floors when you go to shower on those chilly winter mornings. Heated floors are quickly gaining popularity with homeowners who feel they can’t live without this luxury upgrade.

These systems can be installed under tile, hardwood and many other popular flooring surfaces. Heated floors are a great selling point for those thinking about listing their home on the market. Many homeowners would agree that the additional comfort and resale value outweigh the initial investment.

6. Elaborate Designs

Basic square tiles are slowly being replaced with unusual shapes and beautiful mosaics. Mixing and matching colors and patterns is highly encouraged. In other words, the flashier, the better. Designers are starting to use staggered floor patterns with multiple tile sizes. Think outside the box and play with different shapes such as octagonal, hexagonal or small mosaic tile schemes.

Don’t be afraid to mix different shades of colors or incorporate multiple colors in order to liven up your bathroom floors. We’re also seeing designers go as far as mixing materials, such as combining marble, limestone and onyx into one floor design. Use a combination of ideas to make your bathroom floors come alive!

DIY Tips For Water Heater Maintenance

The water heater is something most of us take for granted, until it suddenly stops working. As cold water imposes reality, we desperately dial a plumber or rush off to get a new water heater. All this might be avoided with some regular preventive maintenance

Water heater maintenance is easy to overlook because the tank just sits there and has no moving parts to worry about. Inside though, two things are constantly attacking your water heater: sediment and rust.

Most steel water heater tanks are lined with glass to prevent rust, but the glass lining is never perfect and constant temperature fluxes cause minute openings. When water eventually penetrates the lining, the tank begins to rust.

Also, the heated water causes calcium carbonate to form. It’s a type of limestone you can probably see inside your old teapot. As it forms, the calcium carbonate settles to the bottom of the tank. In gas-powered tanks, it eventually becomes thick enough to reduce heating efficiency. In electric tanks, it forms a hard crust that renders the element useless.

To keep your water heater operating correctly and extend its life by years, you need to carry out regular maintenance.

How to Drain and Clean the Tank

The first task is to drain the tank at least once a year. This will remove most of the sediment collecting at the bottom of the tank. To drain the tank, follow these steps:

  1. Shut off gas or electricity to the water heater.
  2. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.
  3. Close the incoming cold water valve at the top of the tank.
  4. Open the pressure relief valve on the tank to break the vacuum.
  5. Open the drain valve on the tank and drain it.
  6. When finished, reverse the process, remembering to not turn on the gas or electricity until the tank has refilled.

If your tank is located in the basement or a low area that prevents gravity flow draining, you can purchase a small electric pump in plumbing shops or large home supply centers. With this, you can pump the water from your tank to an outside drain or to an upstairs sink.

How to Change the Anode Rod

The next crucial part of maintenance, rarely done, is to replace the anode rod in the tank. This rod is a length of magnesium or aluminum that is suspended in the tank and acts like a magnet to attract charged water molecules that would otherwise attack the steel tank. Check it each year when you drain the tank and replace if the steel rods are showing. Rods will usually last five to 10 years without checking, but cleaning them prolongs the life. To replace the rod, which you can buy at a plumbing shop, follow these steps:

  1. Shut off the incoming cold water valve at the top of the tank.
  2. Unscrew the nut on the top of the tank that suspends the anode rod.
  3. Clip on new rod, insert into tank, and retighten the nut.
  4. Open cold water valve again.

How to Replace an Electric Heating Element

If your electric water heater has not been cleaned for years and seems inefficient, check the heating element. This is a rod that screws into the side of the water heater tank. Generally there are two of them, one high and one low. It’s the low one that is usually coated with calcium carbonate. The rod is connected to electrical wires but is still easy to change. Here’s how:

  1. Shut off electricity to the water tank.
  2. Test that power is off with an inexpensive electrical tester.
  3. Shut off the cold water supply valve.
  4. Open the pressure relief valve on the tank to break the vacuum.
  5. Connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom and drain the tank.
  6. Open the cover located near the bottom of the tank to expose the heating element.
  7. Disconnect the electrical and ground wires on the heating element.
  8. ove the screws that hold the element in place and pull it out.
  9. Buy a matching one at a home supply or plumbing center and install.
  10. Reverse the above process, remembering not to turn the power on until the tank is full.

How to Test the Pressure Release Valve

Another item to check when carrying out annual maintenance is the pressure relief valve. This is a valve on the side of the tank near the top. It should be connected to a pipe that directs the water down and away from the tank so that scalding water does not spray a person if the valve releases due to excessive pressure.

The valves should be opened at least once a year to make sure they work and do not become clogged with calcium carbonate. You can test the valve while the water tank is full by lifting the handle slightly. Do this with caution because it will release hot water. Put a container under the drainpipe to catch the water. If the valve does not release, or not shut off after the test, then it is corroded and needs to be replaced. To replace, shut off the incoming cold water valve above the tank, open a nearby faucet to release the pressure, unscrew the pressure release valve, and install a new one.

Understanding the Dip Tube

The dip tube is a little-mentioned but important part of a water heater. It is a plastic tube on the cold water inlet that caries the incoming cold water to the bottom of the tube, where the heating process goes on. Hot water, which rises, is at the top of the tank. If the dip tub breaks off, cold water will surge into the top of the tank and quickly lower the temperature of the hot water there.

If you suspect a broken dip tube, take these steps to repair it:

  1. Shut off the incoming water valve.
  2. Remove the flex line from the incoming cold water to the water heater.
  3. Remove the fitting on top of the tank and pull out the dip tube.
  4. Buy a compatible replacement and reinstall.
  5. Reconnect piping and turn water back on.

Water Temperature Tips

Finally, keep the water temperature at 115 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures not only save energy, but also prevent overheating. If your water heater pops and cracks on a regular basis, it is possibly because the temperature setting is too high. The excessive heat is causing the tank and pipes to expand and contract. Pressure expansion tanks can be added to the hot water line beside the tank to control this problem.

Other Tips

It’s always important that you check the pipes for any kinds of leaks or damages. If you’re losing water or heat somewhere between the water and your home, that’s a problem. It’s especially important to do this after winter or a major storm, because that’s when damage likely occurs.

For electric heaters, it’s also important to insulate it. It reduces your energy bills by keeping the temperature of the water the same for longer. Doing so helps to keep the life of the heating element stay for longer, because it won’t have to keep flipping on and off like a light switch to get you hot water as often.

For a gas water heater, you should also regularly check the venting system and pilot light. At least once every three months, look at the venting and air system to see if there are any damages. If anything flammable or corrosive is close to the water heater, you could have a fire and burn down the whole house. Make sure to fix anything damaged in the venting area, plus whatever made it corroded so you don’t have it occur again. The pilot light is also important to check because it helps your heater perform at its best efficiency. If it’s yellow colored instead of blue or blue/green, then there’s something wrong

7 Bathroom Floor Trends You Need To Know

Your bathroom floor is one of the most important pieces of the home improvement puzzle but it doesn’t always get the proper attention. The floor is one of the key items in any room, and it’s a design aspect that can make or break the style of your bathroom. Since there are so many different styles out there, it’s oftentimes safer to go with what’s trending instead of taking a stab in the dark. While trends give you an idea of what’s stylish, remember to embrace your own taste and go with what looks best in your home. In fact, we highly encourage you to shop around until you find the bathroom floor that’s right for you.

I’m going to share seven bathroom floor trends that are sure to make your bathroom shine. There are a number of significant factors to take into account as you shop for new floors. Some of the big features that come to mind are durability, visual appeal and cleanliness. Also, let’s not forget about cost. Our flooring guide gives homeowners a better idea of what it costs to install materials like hardwood, porcelain, ceramic tile, bamboo, vinyl tiles and laminate.

See below for floor descriptions and options so you’re fully informed the next time your bathroom is in need of an upgrade.

1. Ceramic Tile

You can’t go wrong installing ceramic tile in your bathroom. It’s visually appealing, timeless, waterproof and sturdy. If for some reason it does break, this tile is fairly easy to repair. Ceramic tile is also easy to install and clean. You can find this tile at almost any home improvement store and at a wide range of prices. In fact, ceramic tile remains one of the most cost effective flooring surfaces on the market today.

The style is everlasting and can be adapted to just about any décor. There are an endless amount of ceramic tile colors and textures to choose from. Be sure to shop around because colors and textures can vary significantly between manufacturers.

2. Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is one of the pricier tile floor options, but it’s worth the extra investment. Porcelain can be used for multiple decorating purposes (think walls and counters), however, it works best in the flooring department. It’s good in high traffic areas because it’s durable and made to last. In reality, this tile is harder than granite. HomeAdvisor says that the color of porcelain tile is not just on the surface, but runs down through the tile. This means that the color will stay the same as it wears down (which, in itself, will take a long time). Want to know the best part? Porcelain tile is so easy to clean!

While there are many positive aspects about porcelain, there are a few downsides you must know. As I stated above, the cost can scare people away. While it’s fairly simple to install porcelain tile, the installation process can be time-consuming. Make sure that whoever puts it in seals the grout well because stained grout is not pretty.

3. Stone Tile

Stone tile floors is a distinct and unique look. The most common types of stone that homeowners use are: slate, flagstone (sandstone), marble, granite, travertine and limestone. Stone tile looks fancy and is highly admired by many homeowners. It’s a timeless and durable substance that can be polished if scratched.

The drawbacks are worth noting. The maintenance is ongoing and needs to be taken seriously if you want to preserve it. To ensure your natural stone floors provide you with a lifetime of beauty and effectiveness, a proper maintenance program is crucial. In addition to consistent upkeep, it’s important to know that stone tile has limited resistance to chemicals and stains. It costs more than ceramic tile to install and the final product rarely looks like the sample you originally select. If you’re thinking about remodeling your bathroom to include stone floors, be sure to get help from an expert.

4. Heated Tile Floors

There are two options when it comes to heating systems for bathroom tiling. Electric radiant heating systems are the most common choice. Electric radiant heating systems are typically more expensive than the other option of hydronic heating. The installation process is complicated, which results in higher labor costs. Still, many homeowners prefer this type over hydronic heating.

Hydronic heating systems are also installed underneath the tile flooring, but instead of electric coils, there are actual tubes that run underneath the flooring. This type of system is ideal for homeowners with boiler systems already in the home as the boiler system is essential for conducting and heating the water in the tubes.

Heated floors aren’t as expensive as you might think. The cost of heated floors has come down in price over the years and they’re now quite affordable. Having heated floors is a great luxury. Such a system can save homeowners money by allowing you to keep the temperature in you homes lower during the colder months. Even though it requires an initial investment of several hundred dollars to install a bathroom floor heating system, many homeowners would agree that the additional comfort and resale value are more than worth the initial cost.

5. Vinyl

Three words come to mind when I think of vinyl: low cost and lovely. This resilient type of flooring combines easy-to-clean durability with the look of natural materials. Vinyl is easy on the pocket-book, comfortable to walk on and super low-maintenance.

There are three basic types of vinyl floor options for the bath: sheet, tile and plank. Sheet vinyl comes in a range of colors and designs and is preferred for high-traffic baths. Vinyl tiles are easy-to-install and mimic stone or ceramic tile. They come in just about any color. The size of the individual tiles range from small to large format and can be installed in practically any pattern for a custom look.

There are a few important details to keep in mind when selecting your vinyl floor. Be prepared to see a lot of different styles, patterns and finishing options. There are so many possibilities these days! Think about what looks best with your home décor and try not to get overwhelmed. Also, vinyl is very soft, so be careful of sharp objects hitting your floor. They will make a dent.

6. Laminate & Wood Looking Tiles

It’s clear in this picture that laminate can look like wood. This unscratchable, no maintenance ceramic wood look could be yours if the price is right. Well, good news. It’s affordable and looks great in bathrooms! Laminate is easy to clean and maintain, versatile and reasonably priced. In this day and age, laminate flooring can simulate a lot of different natural hardwood materials.

The downside to laminate is that it cannot be refinished. Once it’s damaged, it needs to be replaced. In addition, the floor might look like wood but it won’t feel like it. When you walk on a laminate floor, it produces sound that makes the material feel fake and manufactured. It’s also a very hard material that doesn’t give.

7. Patterns, Textures & Designs

Unique arrangements, surfaces and designs are in! Don’t be afraid to go for a custom look or explore styles that may deviate from your standard white tile bathroom floor. This is your chance to add that pop of color or pick a pattern that isn’t just a bunch of identical squares in a row. Go online or to a nearby store and start to discover what you like and don’t like

DIY Tips for How To Bleed A Radiator

Bleeding out a radiator is an important step to ensure your home is heated all winter long. Bleeding a radiator ensures your most important winter system won’t go out when you need it most. Fortunately, bleeding out a radiator is very simple. The entire process takes about 10 minutes.

Why Bleed A Radiator

Air is prone to getting trapped a radiator, preventing water from heating.

When To Bleed Radiator

You need to bleed out your radiator anytime you have air trapped inside it. You can determine if you have air in your radiator by feeling the top and bottom. If it is warm on the bottom and cool on top, you need to bleed it out. However, if there is a lot of air trapped inside, you will feel that it is cold all over. You need to bleed it out in this case too.

How To Bleed A Radiator

First, you need a radiator key. Most hardware stores will have a key available on the shelves. There are also many radiators that will work with a simple flat-head screwdriver. You should always turn off your central heating system before proceeding with the following steps. Otherwise, more air can get caught inside the radiator. You also want to grab a small bowl that will catch the water as you bleed the radiator. The two valves at the bottom of the unit should be open.

Turn the key counterclockwise on the radiator valve, which is usually located on top. Hold the bowl or a small towel underneath the key to catch any drops. Be careful. This water can be hot and you might hear a hissing sound. Once all the water has dribbled out, turn the key clockwise to close it.

Did You Bleed Radiator Correctly?

Once you have checked each of your radiators, ensure that there are no leaks. Turn the heat on and feel them carefully. If you notice that some of your radiators have more problems than others, it is time to consider that the balance of your radiators might be off. You may need an HVAC pro to fix.

Conclusion

This is a process you should repeat about once a year. It will be one of the easiest home maintenance steps you can take. With just a few minutes of your time, your radiators will be in fine working order

How To Regrout A Shower

You can clean your shower all you want, but eventually, there comes a time when you’re going to have to remove your old shower grout and replace it with brand new shower grout.

Grout is the material that locks tiles together and keeps moisture from penetrating your expensive tile. It is used throughout the house, but mainly in the bathroom, all over your shower and tile floors. Over time, grout starts to peel and become dirty. Cleaning does help, but fortunately enough, you can also regrout your shower without a big financial debt.

Below, I will show you how to regrout a shower and all the materials you need to complete this time-consuming, yet effective home remodeling project.

Materials Needed To Regrout

Like any project, there are basic materials and tools one needs to complete the job and others that make the job easier to complete. For any regrouting project, make sure you purchase:

  • Utility Knife
  • Grout Remover or Grout Rake
  • Dusk Mask
  • Goggles
  • Masking Paper
  • Vacuum
  • Caulk
  • Grout (waterproof)
  • Grout Spreader or Grout Float
  • Mixing Bucket
  • Putty Knife or Grout Mixing Tool
  • Sponge & Cleaning Supplies

Now, there are certain tools that can make your regrouting project easier and less time-consuming. In addition to all the materials above, I recommend purchasing:

  • Electric Grout Remover
  • Caulk Gun
  • Gloves
  • Stain (Color Grout)
  • Grout Enhancer
  • Grout Saw
  • Scrub Brush
  • Grout Sad

How To Remove Grout

Over time, your grout has undoubtedly settled into place and formed a very hard surface in between all your tiles. As such, if you use a standard grout removal tool, the project will be labor intensive. In fact, that is why hiring a professional is so expensive. The labor charge makes up a majority of the invoice. By comparison, according to our shower regrouting cost estimator, materials for a regrouting project ranges between $180 and $420.

To cut down on the intensity and labor of the project, you could purchase an electric grout remover. Its high-speed bit effortlessly chews away old grout and guides you between the tiles, preventing expensive tile repairs.

Nevertheless, no matter what tool you are using, start by putting on your goggles, dusk mask and rubber gloves. Then, cover the tub and surrounding areas with masking paper. If you are working near the drain, cover that as well. Grout and plumbing do not get along. Also, turn on your bathroom fan and open all windows and doors.

Take your grout remover (whether it be electric or not) and place the blade tip directly on the grout. For a standard grout remover, the blade tips face one way, so only move in one direction. Firmly, move across the grout as if you were butterflying a big piece of chicken. Start in the middle of your shower and move your way out. Do the vertical lines first, before moving onto the horizontal lines.

Remember, the grout is going to be tough. In order to remove your shower grout, a little elbow grease will be needed. Just be careful not to cut any of your existing tiles. For larger grout lines, I highly recommend an electric remover. It’s not only faster, but makes the job much easier to complete.

Once you have removed all the old grout, clean the tiles with a damp sponge and your chosen cleaning supplies. For more tips on grout cleaning, please see tile and grout cleaning costs.

Regrout Your Shower

Before you choose a grout, make sure you take an extra piece of tile, or a picture of your tile, to your nearest hardware store. Talk with a pro to find out what type and color go best in your shower. More than likely, you will choose the same color you had before (white or gray) and a waterproof grout designed for showers and bathrooms. Additionally, you should use sanded grout for wide joints (1/16 to 1/8 inch) and unsanded for narrower joints.

Once the entire area has been cleaned, you can start mixing your grout. Some grouts will come in ready-mixed forms. If you are mixing grout yourself, only mix the amount you think you will use in 30 minutes. Otherwise, the grout may hard and won’t be able to transfer.

You can mix the grout with water or grout enhancer. Grout enhancers can improve its durability and stain resistance. Mix using your putty knife until you form a creamy paste. Do not over mix and create air bubbles. Once mixed, it’s time to apply to the shower.

Place a chunk of grout on your grout float or grout spreader. For larger showers, a grout float is recommended and it will undoubtedly save you time and energy. Use whichever tool you chose to work the grout across the tile. Apply the replacement grout at a 45-degree angle. Work it thoroughly into the spaces between tiles so there are no air ­bubbles or gaps. You may have to use the edges of a grout spreader to push the remaining grout into its appropriate spots. Cover the entire surface and work at a steady pace. No breaks as the grout can harden in 30 minutes or less.

Once all grout is added, clean off all excess grout with a wet sponge. If you accidently remove any wanted grout while cleaning, you can add some back using your finger or putty knife. If you wish, you can now apply new caulk to the outskirts of the shower. New caulk makes sense when regrouting a shower.

Let the grout harden for 30 minutes and then use your grout saw to give it an even appearance. Let the grout sit for another three hours and then take some wet paper towels and wipe off the powdery film that usually remains