Category: Home Improvement

The Next Hot Trend In Tile: Faux Wood Tile

Flooring options are becoming a heated debate and the two frontrunners are wood and tile. Oftentimes, someone in a household will love the natural beauty of wood and someone else will argue that tile is the most logical choice. This begs the question, is there any other option that can combine the practicality of tile and the sophisticated look of wood? Thanks to technology, we have an answer and the latest hot trend in home remodeling is faux wood tile.

What is Faux Wood Tile?

Faux wood tile is indeed a ceramic or porcelain tile that emulates real wood. You may question the quality of the “faux” tile, but believe me, if you didn’t know, more often than not, you can’t distinguish the real wood floors from the faux. Want a challenge? Tell me which living room has real hardwood floors?

I’m sorry. Both A and B are faux tiles.

Of course, the wood design is not the only reason faux tiles have gained recognition. Here are six reasons why more and more people tend to pick wood tile flooring over hardwood flooring.

1. Faux Wood Tile is More Durable Than Hardwood

The beauty of hardwood flooring is timeless, yet fleeting. As we all know, the biggest disadvantage of hardwood flooring is that it can easily get scratched from furniture and everyday foot traffic. Faux wood tile, on the contrary, is much more scratchproof. By using wood tile in high traffic areas, you don’t have to worry about the chips and scratches you might see on real wood floors. This means you can enjoy the gorgeous beauty of your flooring for decades or even a lifetime.

2. Faux Wood Tile has a Higher Resistance to Water

Most homeowners love a touch of warmth in rooms like bathrooms and kitchens. I can always hear people asking whether wood is an appropriate material to use in those moisture-prone areas. Unfortunately, wood and water don’t mix. In fact, wet areas are where faux wood tile comes into play, as tiles have a higher resistance to water. Hence, if you want to create a wooden bathroom or kitchen, consider placing faux wood tile as an alternative to hardwood floors.

3. Faux Wood Tile Only Needs a bit of Maintenance

Compared to hardwood floors that require refinishing, resealing or restaining on a regular basis, faux wood tile is almost maintenance free. Since faux wood tile is actually ceramic or porcelain tile, you just need to take care of it with some basic tile cleaners. Don’t know how to clean tiles properly? Follow our DIY guide for cleaning tile floors. You’ll see how easy it is to keep faux wood tile floors looking like new.

4. Faux Wood Tile is Not Susceptible to Termites

The other ugly truth about hardwood flooring is that it’s prone to termite attack. What’s worse, once your floors have termite problems, the only way to fix it is to tear it all up and replace it with new flooring. Needless to say, this will hurt your wallet. Therefore, if your home has a termite history, let this be your warning. Instead of opting for termite-resistant wood, just go with faux tile, which won’t be susceptible to any pests. This way, you can avoid potential costs or pest issues.

5. Faux Wood Tile Offers Unlimited Design Possibilitie

Faux wood tile now comes in a variety of colors and textures, offering homeowners limitless design possibilities. Because of the new inkjet technology, you can even use finishes you couldn’t find in the wood flooring market. For instance, everyone loves the look of reclaimed wood. However, since reclaimed wood is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners, it’s no easy task finding a perfect piece.  Even if you find one, the price may be quite expensive. Thus, remodeling experts will recommend faux wood tile, as it can give you the authentic beauty of reclaimed wood without breaking the bank.

6. Faux Wood Tile is Affordable

Just because faux wood tile has so many advantages over hardwood flooring, it doesn’t mean it will cost more than its solid wood counterpart. According to Omaha Magazine, the price per square foot of faux wood tile is only a mere fraction of what you’ll pay for real hardwood. Additionally, because it doesn’t require any special upkeep, like refinishing, you will surely save more money in the long run.

Want to get the luxurious look with a more affordable price? The average cost to install ceramic or porcelain tile floors is approximately $3,724 for 500 square feet of flooring. See the specific cost in your area

Stained Concrete Floors

The idea of having concrete floors throughout the house is initially a turnoff to many people, until they see how stunning stained concrete floors can be. In the hands of a concrete artist, the flooring might be turned into something that looks more like marble or even brick. Patterns can be cut into the concrete to resemble grout lines dividing large pieces of colored tile flooring.

A popular form of concrete decoration is staining. Whether it’s acid or acrylic, staining the concrete is a good way to turn it from that boring grey into just the right color to match the rest of the room.

How to Stain Concrete Floors

Color can be added to the concrete by using chemical stains made of either acrylic or acid. Acrylic is harder to predict the outcome of, as it can point the chinks and cracks in concrete more prominently, so it’s often recommended that homeowners use acid-based stain when coloring their concrete floors.

Cleaning the concrete is key before laying the stain, as adding color to any surface will show any kind of variations or problems that might be there beforehand. So having dust highlighted would not be a good idea. Applying it uniformly is also a good idea, unless you want some part of the concrete to be darker or lighter than others on purpose.

Chemical stains are used on existing slabs by mixing muriatic acid with metallic salts. The salts convey the color and the acid etches the surface enough for the color to penetrate up to 1/16 of an inch. The stain can be rolled or sponged on the slab. Each style provides a different result. Afterwards, make sure to remove any residue or inconsistencies before the staining dries, so you get the exact look you want for the stained surface. Use a wet cloth to blot the surface to remove any prints or splotches. Then apply a sealant coating.

More on Concrete Flooring

Concrete floors are not for everyone, and some people believe such floors would be too hard. Indeed, they are hard, but no more so than ceramic tile or stone floors. A few well-placed rugs will give the floor a softer look.

Concrete also lends itself well to radiant heating. The pipes can be placed in the concrete during the pour, and the concrete mass helps distribute the heat uniformly.

Maintenance is easy with these floors. They do not wear out or discolor. Basic sweeping and damp mopping keeps them great in appearance. The reason for this is because the color has penetrated the concrete and is not a surface material, like polish, waiting to be dulled.

DIY Tips For Cleaning Tile Floors

Floors come in a myriad of choices, but tile remains an attractive choice among homeowners. Unlike hardwood floors, tile floors are durable, waterproof, easy to install and available in an array of styles. Most importantly, they don’t require as much maintenance as carpets do. However, if you want your tile floors looking like new for years, you should know how to clean them properly. Below are the best ways to clean tile floors, whether they are ceramic, vinyl or stone.

Clean Your Tile Floors Regularly

Don’t wait until your tile floors get really dirty, as you may want to avoid using strong chemicals that will degrade your tiles in the long run. Plus, who wants to spend hours kneeling on the floor just to scrub away stubborn stains? To prevent these problems, you should learn how to clean tile floors on a frequent basis. Cleaning tile floors routinely or even daily may sound tiresome. But, it’s not as hard as you think. You just need to follow these simple steps.

1. Sweep your tile floors daily with a fluffy dust mop or vacuum to remove loose dust and dirt. Remember, you should never use a straw broom to replace either the dust mop or vacuum because that will scratch your tiles.

2. Believe it or not, mopping the floor with warm water once a week will help your tiles stay nice and shiny. If you are looking to hire a cleaning pro to take care of your tile floors, you can see how much it will cost in your area through our house cleaning cost guide.

3. Dry the floor right after damp mopping to avoid new dirt from quickly setting in wet areas and becoming hard-to-remove grimes.

4. Wipe up spills, including water, immediately by using absorbent cloths. However, for those dirtier spills like pet accidents or dropped raw meat, you have to clean them with a cleanser or disinfectant. Since strong chemicals may dull your tiles, try to only spray the area where spills occurred.

5. Put a doormat both outside and inside your home to eliminate tracking mud or water on your tile floors. This step is especially important during rain and snow seasons.

Apply Deep Cleaning Solutions From Time to Time

Does your tile floor look nasty no matter how often you mop? Try a stronger cleaning solution. These different deep-cleaning solutions will remove greasy residues and stains without damaging your tiles.

1. Mop the floor with a mix of ½ cup white vinegar and a gallon of warm water. The acidity in vinegar can work as a natural grease-remover that makes this approach especially useful for kitchens. You can also use ½ cup of plain rubbing alcohol as a substitute for vinegar.

2. Mix fresh water and dish detergent and mop it on the floor to remove hard grease.

3. Spot-clean stains with a mixture of half scouring powder and half warm water. Spread the mixture onto a stain by using a clean cloth and let it sit on the tile for 5-10 minutes. Then, scrub the area with a soft brush and thoroughly rinse the tile with warm water and a cloth. Repeat the process until you remove the stain.

Please note that acids like vinegar and some other cleaning products will erode natural stone tiles. Therefore, you should only use special pH neutral cleaners to safely clean your stone tile floors. Gentle dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, cornstarch and baking soda, for example, are good natural cleaning options.

Worried about cleaning your exquisite marble floor? Consider hiring a professional. The national average cost for tile & grout cleaning service is $401. See the specific cost in your area.

Don’t Forget Grout Cleaning

Never overlook the importance of tile grout, as bright grout will make your tile floors look great and new. Before you go with commercial cleaners, try to clean your grout with a mixture of baking soda and water. The steps are simple:

1. Saturate the dirty grout with the paste.

2. Let the paste sit for a while or even overnight, depending on how dirty your grout is.

3. Scrub the grout with an old toothbrush.

4. Wash the paste out with warm water.

If your grout doesn’t look as bright as you would like, you can use a non-toxic cleaner like oxygen bleach. Add water to the bleach powder based on the product’s instructions and rub the solution on the grout with the edge of a sponge. Repeat as necessary. Finally, rinse the floor with warm water to remove the residue.

Whether you decide to use baking soda or oxygen bleach, after you are done cleaning, you should apply a sealer to the grout, keeping the dirt away in the future.

Conclusion

Like other areas of the home, the best maintenance is always precautionary rather than reactionary. If you follow these steps and regularly clean your tile floors, they will look as good as new for years to come

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

How to Enjoy The End Of Summer

It’s always sad when summer ends. After all, the end of summer means weather starts to get cool and days at the beach quickly dwindle. Let’s not let Mother Nature get in our way of enjoying the what’s left of summer.

There are easy ways to make the most of the final weeks of summer. Whether it’s taking advantage of a nice day in your pool, lounging in a hot tub, reading a good book or even hosting a Sunday morning tailgate, there are dozens of ways to enjoy what’s left of summer.

Host A Pool Party

The weather may be getting cooler, but there is still time to take a dip in that luxurious pool you added years ago. In fact, in September of 2013, the average temperature in the U.S. was 67.3°F, 2.5°F above the 20th century average. That was the sixth warmest September on record and the warmest September since 2005.

I understand that 67°F may not be the best of pool weather, but given all the advantages a day at the pool brings, why not enjoy it? In fact, as you can see at the Benefits of A Swimming Pool, there’s much more to it then taking in the last warm days of the year. Swimming pools:

  • Give you the chance to host get-togethers, tailgates or a family birthday
  • Let you enjoy the outdoors before it gets really cold
  • Give you an excuse to exercise (in the pool)
  • Help encourage you to finish your summer book
  • Have fun in comfortable weather

And if 67°F is a bit too cold, I highly recommend adding a pool heater. Believe it or not, there are numerous pool heaters on the market designed to match the size of your pool and the climate of your city. As you can imagine, both have a large effect on the overall price, but according to our pool heater cost estimator, the average price to install a pool heater is just under $2,400.

Bonus Tip: It’s important that you don’t select an oversized unit because you could waste energy and impact the pool chemistry if the water is too hot.

Relax in A Hot Tub

If you’re stressed with the daily struggles of life, a hot tub could be the answer. In fact, studies show that warm water allows your blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to your muscles. All this, in return, helps you relax. Furthermore, a National Sleep Foundation study found that a 15-minute soak in hot water can actually help you fall asleep faster. All in all, sounds like a good deal to me.

As we indicated in Hot Tub and Spa Benefits, 56% of hot tub/spa owners cite relaxation as the primary reason for purchasing a hot tub or spa. Nonetheless, such relaxation does not come without a price. In addition to electric increases, the average price to install or repair a hot tub can creep into the thousands.

Stay Cool with an Awning

Despite the cooler weather, some homeowners want that extra shade even if they are relaxing outside. Your best solution would be to install an awning.

Designed to provide shade, as well as protection from rain, awnings can be an attractive addition to any yard or patio. Because awnings are available in a number of materials, styles and colors, choosing a single option can feel overwhelming.

Metal awnings are very popular and according to our metal awnings material estimator, they cost between $5 and $11 per square foot. Fortunately, if placed on the right window, awnings can greatly reduce the need for air conditioning in the home. In fact, many awnings even retract, which is great for areas of the country with inconsistent weather.

Close Up Your Patio & Enjoy It All Year

Sadly, there are some areas of the country where a pool and outdoor patio is just not worth it. Living in Chicago, it’s hard to imagine more than two weeks without snow, rain or freezing temperatures. For all cities alike, a patio enclosure is your answer.

An easy way to make the most of your patio is to build an enclosure and cover up the patio entirely. Otherwise, you could also add screens to protect against heavy rain and wind. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, one being the total cost. Patio enclosures are more expensive, coming in at $13,735.

It’s a big expense, but on the bright side, a patio enclosure is much cheaper than a home addition

The Hidden Costs of Buying & Maintaining A Swimming Pool

A bright swimming pool on a sunny summer afternoon is always filled with smiles, laughs and all around fun. Swimming pools are great for the family and increasing your home’s value, but they also come with many maintenance items that will lighten your pockets.

Before installing a new outdoor swimming pool, be sure to see the most common costs of buying and maintain a swimming pool.

Costs of Inground vs. Above Ground Pools

Off the bat, all homeowners should know that inground swimming pools are more expensive to install than above ground. You will have to dig a very large hole to place the pool and this can only be done by a swimming pool professional. On average, the cost of installing a new inground swimming pool runs between $14,961 and $21,649. Choosing a pool installed at the ground level won’t require excavation (save $$$). In fact, the cost of an above ground pool is typically a third of that price. They rarely cost more than $4,500 to purchase and professionally install. To see the price in your area, check out our swimming pool installation cost estimator.

Costs of Pool Materials

Like any other home remodeling project, the materials you put into it have a great effect on the durability and price. Swimming pools are no different. Solid concrete pools are at the highest end of the spectrum and are designed to last the longest. Vinyl and fiberglass pool shells, which can be simply installed rather than crafted on site, are slightly cheaper than concrete. Customized tiled pools are also expensive because of their higher labor costs.

Costs of Pool Accessories

Many families want more than your average circular swimming pool. We want action. We want more fun. We want jaw-dropping designs. We want extra pool accessories.

Swimming pool slides generally cost around $1,674 for purchase and professional installation. Diving boards, while still providing just as much fun for the kids, are far less at an average of $384.

Other common accessories like pool lighting and tile mosaics have a wide range in prices. A professional pool contractor can help you narrow it down and determine the best ones for your new pool.

Costs of Pool Maintenance

Below are the costs many homeowners don’t consider before buying a brand new swimming pool. Since the pool is exposed to the outdoors 24/7, it will require regular maintenance throughout the year. Understanding some of the most common maintenance items will help you determine the true cost of owning a swimming pool.

Maintenance Costs of Natural Pools

Natural pools are often chosen because they use fewer chemicals and create a peaceful look on your property. While they do require less maintenance overall, they are not cost-free additions to the home. Expect to pay a minimum of $78 monthly for the maintenance of any plants in the pool, keeping the filtration system operating efficiently and cleaning debris from the surface.

Maintenance Costs of Standard Pools

Most likely, you will be installing a standard swimming pool that will require you to maintain the water’s pH balance with chemicals. Sodium hypochlorite will raise the pool’s pH while granular acid will lower it. It’s important to test the water’s balance once a week. You should also provide additional treatment for your pool following a storm, intense heat or growing algae.

There are additional chemicals you must add to kill algae and bacteria. Chlorine is the most popular chemical. It comes in the form of liquid, tablets and a powdery substance. The tablets are often a better choice because they dissolve slowly over time and do not require much maintenance.

On average, expect maintenance to cost $178, but know that the costs will be heavily dependent on the size and quality of your pool.

Costs of Pool Covers

You will not be using the pool 24/7 and therefore, need to protect it from snow, leaves and other harmful items. Every pool owner needs to have a pool cover.

One of the most affordable types are mesh pool nets that cover the tops of both inground and above ground swimming pools. While these won’t necessarily warm the water or stop it from freezing, they do prevent leaves and debris from falling in and blocking the filtration system. Expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $200 for a mesh pool net cover.

Some pool covers are designed to heat the water of the pool, which makes it a viable swimming option for much of the year. These covers can be made for inground or above ground pools and they are often a thick blue insulated material. The low-end price for these covers is $139, but professional installation and high-quality solar warmth may cost as much as $1,305.

Finally, winter pool covers are designed to stay in place for several months at a time, and it secures the pool from leaves, debris or snow. Expect to pay upwards of $59 for a winter pool cover.

Cost of Resurfacing A Fiberglass Pool

Gouges, chips or cracked fiberglass pools are unsightly and not safe for children. Rather than replacing the pool entirely, bringing in professionals to resurface the material can give the pool a fresh new look. On average, resurfacing costs between $655 and $744.

Cost of Liner Replacement for Above Ground Pools

Despite its lower cost for installation, above ground pools may eventually need substantial repair. The biggest problem is a ripped liner, which will have to be replaced entirely. Expect to pay $700 for this replacement, with $500 going to the costs of labor and $200 going to the replacement liner itself.