Can Your Carpet Bounce Back, or Is It Down for the Count?

Eventually, any carpet that receives regular traffic will need to be replaced – no matter how expertly or regularly it’s professionally cleaned. The soft, even texture you love will eventually flatten and lose its looks. But that won’t happen overnight. Chances are, you’ll someday reach the point where you’ll wonder if it’s time to call on the steam cleaners to work their magic, or if it’s finally time to think about replacing that carpet altogether.

For many of us, new carpet represents a considerable investment. If and when that’s the case, choosing to replace that carpet won’t easy. But here are some ideas to keep in mind if your carpet has seen better days, and you’re wondering if a thorough professional cleaning is the best move, or if it’s time to think about replacing that carpet altogether. In this article, we’ll look at carpets that have lost their shape. As it turns out, some carpets are more likely to regain that shape after a cleaning than others.

Over time, traffic presses carpet down. Pressed-down carpet lays flat, and loses its softness and appearance. But some types of carpet fight to stay upright and retain their youthful shape better than others: wool, nylon, and DuPont’s Serona® carpeting are three examples. These types of carpeting feature stronger, more resilient fibers. After a cleaning, the tufts of a wool, nylon, or Serona carpet are more likely to stand again and regain their looks. Many synthetic carpets, on the other hand, are more prone to losing their shape and staying down flat.

Do you know what kind of carpeting you’ve got? Many of us don’t, but it’s not that difficult to identify what your carpet is made of. Snip a tiny piece of carpet from an inconspicuous place, like the inside of a closet. Next you’re going to want to gently burn the piece of carpet – preferably outside, as the piece of carpet may melt or create a bad odor.

Hold the piece of carpet with cheap tweezers or a paper clip, and light it on fire. If your piece of carpet burns and crumbles, it’s made of a natural fiber – more than likely wool. If you do have a wool carpet, you can count on to holds its shape very well and be exceptionally resistant to stains. Wool carpeting is also expensive – a big investment that can and should be maintained by a professional carpet cleaner like Chem-Dry. You can also count on a wool carpet to bounce back nicely after a steam cleaning.

If your carpet melts, it’s made of a synthetic material like nylon, polyester, or acrylic. Note the odor created. With any luck, you can match the odor to the kind of carpet you’ve got. Here’s a quick guide:

• Nylon – Burning plastic
• Serona – Plant or vegetable, like celery
• Polyester – Chemical, slightly sweet
• Olefin – Asphalt
• Acrylic – Strong meaty, fishy, or chemical
• Rayon – Paper or wood

Once you know your type of carpeting, you have a better idea about how much it might be able to recover. Of the types of carpeting listed above, nylon and Serona are most likely to rebound and recover their shape after a cleaning. The others are more likely to stay down, meaning that you’ll need to replace your carpet in order to get that pleasing soft shape that you’ve been missing.

Regardless of the type of carpet you’ve got, you should remember that occasional steam cleanings are needed in order to extend the life of your carpet. These cleanings remove the soil and grit that damages carpet fibers and accelerate the process of wear. If you’ve got a carpet that you don’t want to replace anytime soon, a professional carpet cleaning will help your carpet look better and brighter, for longer.

Home Improvement Options for Mobility Issues

Helping Those with Limitations

Some people have trouble getting around their home. They could be handicapped, recovering from an injury, or simply aging and needing some additional assistance. There are several small improvements you can make in any home to aid those who are having difficulty moving around. These adjustments can go a long way in giving others some additional independence in their daily lives.

Rails and Benches

First of all, installing railings is a key element in bathrooms and around other areas of the house. For someone who has trouble sitting down without losing their balance or hurting their joints, rails around toilet seats, bathtubs, and seating areas can be a huge help. In fact, to some it could be the difference between functioning on their own or using an elder care program such as Seniors Helping Seniors.

For those who are fatigued easily, having extra seating around the house lets them sit down as soon as they need to without straining themselves. To some, it can be difficult even getting from the couch to the bathroom. In these situations, placing stable benches in hallways, in the kitchen, and in any other unfurnished stretches in the house gives people an easy way to relax at any moment of the day.

There are little things that people will need to get up and do from time to time that can be eliminated. For example, turning off the lights and adjusting the thermostat are simple for those who can get up and walk to the fixtures quickly. Now, imagine recovering from knee surgery and needing to turn off a light.

Lights

As far as lighting goes, you could install motion light sensors or clapping sensors. This way, the lights will automatically switch on or off without you having to get up and walk to a certain control. The only issue is, sometimes you may want a light off while you are in the living room to watch TV or have some other complication. There may be some instances where it is essential to get up. Call your local electrician for assistance with installing a new system.

Thermostats

A programmable thermostat means that you can set temperatures for certain times of the day. For instance, preset the temperature to be 73 degrees from 7am-10pm, and then set the temperature to drop to 70 degrees between 10pm and 7am the next morning. To take it a step further, a remote controlled thermostat will allow you to make changes as you like throughout the day.

These simple home improvement tips can go a long way to someone depending on others for help. Help seniors or anyone else suffering from mobility issues keep their independence and stay happy and healthy in their homes for as long as possible.

Replacement Windows Can Brighten Your Outlook

Boston is home to some of the most beautiful urban landscapes in the world; the hills, the tree-lined streets, and the rivers all make for an uncommonly pretty urban area. Here in this landscape is your home, your castle. You can look out on this picturesque world from your living room and can appreciate the beauty that’s within your view.

But if your windows have seen better days, the otherwise inspiring view may not move you at all. If your windows are looking ratty, or are drafty, it might be time to get some new ones. New replacement windows in Boston are not hard to find and there are many to choose from.

There are so many options to choose from: double- and triple-paned windows and low-E glass are popular here in Boston where we have to contend with cold weather. You’ll find that modern energy-efficient windows can save you money and energy. They act as insulators that protect your home’s interior from the exterior temperatures. They’ll make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

New replacement windows will also increase your home’s value. If you may be looking to sell your house in the next few years, any investment you make now will pay off later. Energy-efficient homes are very popular; the more efficient you can make your home, the more attractive it will be to a buyer. The number of windows your home possesses can also attract home buyers; the more natural light that gets into your home, the better. Everyone enjoys being inside more when they don’t always have to rely on artificial light.

Investing in replacement windows will do more than improve your home’s value or lower winter’s heating bills. It may not sound like much, but windows are the lenses through which we see the world. You’ll be amazed at how much brighter Boston appears when you view it through shiny new windows.

Some Landscaping Help for My Unkempt Yard

My father came out to visit a few days ago, and he was struck by how bleak Norfolk can look in December. In a couple of months, many of the bare trees will look stately – almost elegant. But now, many trees that looked wonderful in the fall don’t look so good. Despite the fact that it’s almost winter, trees are giving up their leaves reluctantly, ensuring that walkways and parking lots stay difficult to keep neat and tidy.

I realized that Norfolk doesn’t look bleak or grey so much as it looks a little unkempt this time of year. When people aren’t heading out for some last-minute Christmas shopping or a holiday get-together, they’re staying indoors. People aren’t taking the time to keep things neat, to smartly pick up little pieces of trash and debris. Brown leaves are blowing about. Lawns are filled with ugly thatch and the occasional brown spots where leaves were allowed to press down on the grass for too long.

I can understand why people don’t want to do a lot of yard work this time of year. I don’t either. While I look for excuses to stay outdoors in the spring or summer, now I’m looking for reasons to stay in. They’re easy to find: It’s cold. It’s dark. I’m busy. It’s football season, and I’d rather watch a game than collect the leaves that have gathered under my shrubs. But I do want a neat yard. I decided it was time to find a landscaping and lawn care company to help out this winter.

I knew that a couple of my neighbors used landscaping companies. Both of their yards looked good – even now, when everyone else’s was looking a little haggard. Two different landscapers were performing the work, and my neighbors were kind enough to provide recommendations and contact information for both.

Before calling either company, I looked them up online to see what else I could find. Mostly I wanted to make sure that the online reviews didn’t provide any red flags. Thankfully, they didn’t, but it always pays to look. I also noticed another landscaper that got promising reviews – another prospect for me to check out.

Now it was time for a quick phone call to each landscaper. My mission was simple: I wanted to make sure that these were well-established companies. I wanted to get a sense of the professionalism of the company – one I would get just from talking to whomever picked up the phone. And I wanted to get a bi-weekly rate. I figured the rates would be about the same, and anything too low or too high would be a red flag. As it turned out, there weren’t any red flags to be seen – but only one of Norfolk’s landscaping companies would get my business.

What finally won out was the rapport I had with the owner of one of the companies. I got the feeling that he was someone I could trust to get the job done right. I thought that – if his landscaping crews did well enough – I’d keep using them even after the grey of winter gives way to the green of spring. I don’t mind yard work in the springtime, but I think I’ll find plenty of other excuses to stay outside.

Finding a Replacement Window Installer

When you’re looking to upgrade your home, don’t forget about your windows. If your home is more than a couple of decades old, and you’ve got the original windows, those windows may be out-of-date – even close to failure. Here in Boston, early winter is the worst possible time to have your windows fail on you; if your windows are cracking, leaking, or showing other signs of trouble, you need to find a replacement window company sooner rather than later.

When you start your search, plan to spend some time and effort. Start by asking your friends and neighbors for advice. At least one or two ought to have recently replaced their windows; if you trust their judgment, it never hurts to ask for a recommendation. You might discover who to trust – and who to avoid. The Internet is also a great place to search for a contractor. You can find customer reviews and phone numbers for any installer in town. Don’t let this wealth of information slip through your fingers.

So how will you know a good window company when you find one? The best ones will not only help you find the right replacement windows for your home, but they will also offer expert replacement window installation services.

Once you’ve found your window company, they’ll help you discover which windows are right for your home. Many types of windows are out there and they all have their own benefits. Living in Boston, you probably want energy-efficient windows that let in lots of natural light. Look for windows that can lower your energy costs throughout the year, as you’ll spend less money heating and cooling your home during the various seasons.

After walking you through everything and helping you choose the windows you need, the right company will complete the installation themselves. When it comes to something as important as your windows, you want an experienced professional to handle the entire process. Improper installation could cause you tremendous grief in the future. Instead, do your homework, play it safe, and don’t settle for anything less than one of the best replacement window installers that Boston has to offer.

Is Your Hardwood Floor Thick Enough to Refinish?

If you’ve lived with your hardwood floor for a few years, it may be starting to show a little wear and tear. And maybe you’re starting to wonder if that floor can be refinished; as it turns out, not every hardwood floor is a good candidate for it. Let’s take a look at one important factor – wood thickness – and see how it affects your options.

If you’re considering a refinishing, the thickness of your flooring is the first thing you’re going to need to know. If you’ve got a solid wood floor, chances are it was originally either 5/16” or 3/4” in thickness. However, a small fraction of an inch – anywhere from 1/32 of an inch to a tenth – will be lost each time the floor is sanded down for a refinishing. The shallower your floorboards become, the easier it becomes to accidentally sand down to the subfloor – and the more likely you’ll want to rely on a professional floor refinisher.

Some solid wood floors can be sanded more deeply than others. If you’ve got plank flooring, you’ll be able to sand through most of the plank and still expect great results. Tongue-and-groove floors cannot be sanded as deeply, as this would eliminate the connections that bond the individual boards together. As professionals should be able to more effectively and evenly sand the floor – removing less wood in the process – you may want to seek professional refinishing help for tongue-and-groove floors.

Many people wonder if they can refinish their engineered flooring. The answer is, maybe. Engineered hardwood floors feature a veneer that is much shallower than the typical 5/16” or 3/4” thickness of solid wood. The thickness of this veneer will be measured in millimeters; this thickness can vary greatly, from .5 to 5 millimeters. If the veneer’s thickness is close to the maximum of 5 millimeters (just under 1/5”), the floor could potentially be re-sanded once or twice.

If you’re considering refinishing an engineered floor, a consultation with a professional would be a good idea. If you have the original paperwork and warranty information on the floor, these documents may also have the insight you need: the veneer thickness and whether or not refinishing is recommended. Whether you plan on doing the work on your own, or having your floors professionally done, you’ll definitely want to consult any original paperwork you’ve got.

If you find that your floor doesn’t have the requisite thickness for complete refinishing, you may also want to consider a sandless floor restoration option, such as the one my local refinisher, Buff & Coat, offers. You may find that the less intensive, and less expensive, sandless options can restore your flooring to the point where you no longer want a complete sanding and refinishing. No matter which method you choose, here’s to hoping that your hardwood floor again becomes a source of pride and pleasure for you.

‘Tis The Season For New Electronics – Can Your Electrical Panel Handle Them?

Christmas is coming, and that means that another wave of electronic devices is coming to your home. And everything from that bigger fridge to your son’s new gaming console to your wife’s new tablet will be drawing more energy from your home’s electrical system. There’s one question you might want to be asking: Is your house’s electrical panel up to the task? If you’ve got an older panel, the answer may be no.

I know that my electrical panel won’t have any problem meeting my home’s power demands this holiday season, and shouldn’t for the next several years. But two winters ago, this wasn’t the case.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my old panel was rated at 60 amps. When it was initially installed, the owner probably imagined that a 60-amp panel could handle anything he’d ever try to fit in this house. And perhaps that was true then, but it hasn’t been true for some time. In a medium-sized home like this one, with moderate electrical demands, that panel could be overmatched.

So by the time Denver’s typically cold winter weather pushed our heating system to its limit, we started to see signs that the main panel was also maxed-out. The first signs were flickering lights – something I mistakenly associated with a strong winter wind. Then came the tripped breakers; once that started to happen, it occurred with alarming regularity. We were on the phone to Mister Sparky of Denver – a local electrical contractor – within a couple of days after the breaker tripped the first time.

I learned that the breakers were tripping in order to prevent our electrical system from being overloaded. And I learned that my system was being overloaded because our decades-old panel – not to mention the out-dated wiring – wasn’t able to deal with today’s power demands. Finally, I learned that a 100-amp panel would be more in line with the electrical demands of our home.

While a 100-amp panel was more than our home needed then – or now – I’m hoping that this panel lasts as long as the last one did. It had better, because upgrading the panel also required quite a bit of peripheral work including a new meter and some new wiring. It was a lot of work – and all of it needed to be correct and up-to-code; this was work that requires a licensed contractor – not a non-professional.

If you’ve got an older home, and don’t think that your panel or wiring have been upgraded for quite some time, I’d suggest arranging for a professional inspection. A licensed electrical contractor will be able to assess the state of your system and its ability to power your heating and air, appliances, and other devices in your home. I wish I’d had my system inspected earlier – if only to give me a heads-up that I had a major upcoming household expense that would require some budgeting adjustments. Here’s to hoping you learn from my experience.

This Fall’s Annual Project: Updating My Shower

Just about everywhere you look inside of my Vermont home, you can see a bit of my handiwork. That’s because when it gets cold outside, I like to stay busy inside where it’s nice and warm. Over the last few cold seasons, I’ve installed wood flooring, laid down slate tiles, replaced my kitchen cabinets and backsplash, and brought my laundry room into the twenty-first century.

This year, I’d like to turn my attention to the master bath. I’m feeling pretty ambitious. I know I’d like to replace the drywall, install a new vanity and toilet, and tile the floor. The question I’m stuck on is whether or not I want to install a new shower door, or if I want to pay a professional to do it.

Before I can answer that question, I need to figure out what kind of shower door I want. That’s important for at least a couple of reasons. First, it will help me decide if a new door and a professional installation are both in my budget. Second, the difficulty of installation varies with the type of door. I’m pretty handy, but I’ve never installed a shower door before.

After making a visit to a nearby shower door showroom at Portland Glass, I’ve narrowed my decision to either a frameless design or a semi-frameless design. I love the clean, open look of the frameless doors – it’s almost like the door isn’t even there. Semi-frameless doors are almost – but not quite – as new and sleek looking. Both are a vast improvement over the curtain I use now.

With all else being equal, I’d go with the frameless shower door design. But there are two important considerations:

• First, the frameless designs cost a few hundred dollars more than the semi-frameless.
• Second, the frameless designs are more difficult to install – given their expense, thicker glass, and greater weight, these are probably beyond my comfort level.

At an earlier stage in my plans, I was hoping that I could ease a more expensive shower door into my budget by performing the installation myself. Now I know that frameless designs – as lovely as they are – don’t present that option to someone not used to installations like this.

I went back to the glass store, and looked almost exclusively at the semi-frameless designs this time. And it occurred to me that one of the shower doors would look really good paired with the new vanity I had in mind – both shared antique bronze elements similar to others that looked great elsewhere in my home. Maybe that semi-frameless design could win over my heart as well as my mind.

As cold weather approaches and I get ready for this fall’s home improvement work, my shower door has been special-ordered. It will arrive around the time I’ll want to stay cozy indoors. I haven’t yet decided if I will install it myself, but I’m comfortable with handling the work myself. I can’t wait to see how nice my updated bathroom looks by the time spring arrives.

Exterior Home Improvements – Painters

When it comes to home improvements around the neighborhood, nothing stands out more than a freshly painted home. Just recently, I had my home re-painted and it’s something that makes me smile every day as I return home from work. If you are considering having your home’s exterior painted, there are a few things you should consider.

Paint it Yourself, or Hire a Company?

This is a question that will really depend on your skill set, preference, and the amount of time you have available to devote to the project. Typically speaking, painting a home’s exterior can be a difficult task if you approach the project without the right knowledge. There are a lot of helpful websites out there that will better prepare you for the coming task, and for information specifically on painting the exterior of your home you can look here.

Of course, some of you may not readily jump at the opportunity to paint your home on your own – which is perfectly fine, as I’m the type of person that would prefer to hire a contractor to handle the job personally. When it comes to hiring someone to paint your home, it’s important to do some research on that contracting group, or the company that you are considering hiring. Look for reviews online (Angie’s List is very helpful), and be sure to get a quote from a few options in your area. I personally wound up hiring The Carpentry & Painting Experts and they provided some of the best painters in Richmond VA – something I’ve very pleased with.

Painting the exterior of your home is a great investment – and it personalizes your house to fit you and your taste perfectly. Enhance the curb appeal and value of your home, and impress your neighbors all at the same time with a fresh, vibrant coat of paint!

The Benefits Of Andersen Windows

window with a viewWindows are great. If you are a homeowner, you probably already know that replacement windows do a lot for your home because they allow us to see the great outdoors without leaving the comfort of our home and much more. They let you watch the snow fall as enjoy a hot beverage. But with so many window manufacturers out there, it may be hard to see the difference between producers and find the right one to go with. If you’re looking for new windows for your home, you should go with Andersen Windows. Here are some of the benefits of Andersen Windows.

  • Clarity you can see. Windows are great to look through but when they aren’t clear, they don’t serve their purpose very well. Andersen Windows are the clearest windows you’ll find on the market, made with the highest quality glass around.
  • They are great insulators. Your house loses a lot of energy through its windows. In the wintertime, this can add up to hundreds of dollars on your energy bill. Andersen Windows are made to insulate your home, so that it can maintain temperatures in the winter and summer. Nothing is worse than having a cold house in January and an unbearably hot home in August.
  • Security you can count on. Windows are another way to enter and exit your home. Although you may not be crawling through them everyday, it is in your best interest to make sure no one else can either. Andersen Windows are strong enough to stand up to the greatest pressure, so you can feel safe from danger. These windows will make your home more secure than before.

If you live in or near Philadelphia including Wilmington and Northern Delaware and could benefit from insulating replacement windows, I would recommend giving rbawindowsphiladelphia.com a visit. The benefits of Andersen Windows are very easy to see. You’ll feel safe knowing they’re protecting your home and you’ll enjoy looking through them year after year. They’re a great investment in your home as they both protect your family from the elements and save you money on your energy bill. Don’t let this window of opportunity close! Upgrade your home’s windows today.