Friday, May 24, 2013

Asphalt Shingle Weathering

"Weathering" is a general term used to describe the effects on shingles of long-term exposure to the elements.

Weathered shingles aren’t necessarily damaged shingles, although weathering will eventually damage shingles. Weathering is a natural process that causes shingles to deteriorate over time. The rate at which shingles weather can be affected by a number of things.

Shingle Quality
Low-quality shingles will fail before high-quality shingles. Quality can vary widely among manufacturers, and even within a single manufacturer’s product line.

Structure Orientation
South-facing roof slopes have shorter lifespans due to increased thermal cycling and UV exposure. Some portions of the roof are affected by prevailing winds more than others.

Degree of Roof Slope
Flatter roofs have shorter lifespans because they shed moisture more slowly and are more directly exposed to UV radiation than roofs with steeper pitches.

Harsh climates shorten roof lifespans. Wind, moisture and thermal cycling all contribute to deterioration of roofing materials.

Thermal Cycling
Climates with large daily temperature swings shorten roof lifespans because they cause greater amounts of expansion and contraction. This increases the roof's rate of deterioration.

Roof Color
Darker roofs absorb more heat, which shortens shingle lifespan by accelerating the loss of volatiles and increasing thermal cycling.

Homes at higher elevations are exposed to more UV radiation, which deteriorates most roof-covering materials, including asphalt shingles.

Roof Structure Ventilation
Poor ventilation of the roof structure shortens shingle lifespan by failing to keep shingles cool, resulting in accelerated loss of volatiles and greater amounts of thermal cycling.

Quality of Maintenance
Failure to repair damage and keep roofs clean can result in damage and deterioration from moisture intrusion and wind.

To learn more or to consult with a professional contractor about a new roof, contact Benchmark Contracting in Hollywood.

Source: National Association of Certified Inspectors

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

Decorative Staircases

Personalizing your space takes it from a house to a home.

Add drama to a staircase with distinctive railings or embellishments.

Architectural-salvage and reuse centers (like Fort Lauderdale's Habitat ReStore) are hot spots for ideas and materials.

For some additional inspiration, see these fantastic finds:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Decorate Your Home Office

Everyone wants a home office that is a productive sanctuary, not a den of clutter and confusion. When decorating a home office, there are several things to consider besides a simple desk and chair. Both function and style have to work equally hard to create a room that's as productive as it is beautiful.

Before you do anything else, answer these questions to help you determine exactly how much space you'll need for work, storage and leisure in your new office:

What purpose will the office serve?
Who will use it?
What will my technology needs be?
How much storage will I need?

A stunningly functional room still has to be pretty. Here are some tips on how to make your work space a downright pleasant place to be.

Paint your walls with colors that reflect the mood of your business. If you want something more traditional, use subtle and neutral colors like off-white or light blue. If you crave something more creative or artsy, go with bolder colors like oranges and darker shades of green and blue.

An empty wall is an invitation to display more than your advanced degrees and professional awards. Warm up the mood of your office with tastefully framed artwork, photography, etc.

Both attractive and efficient, extra wall shelving can enhance the professional look of your office while offering much needed storage space and clutter control

Indoor plants are not only attractive, but can make any room feel instantly more lively and cozy – an easy way to guard against your work space becoming too sterile or boring.

Storage Ottomans
If you have space to spare, consider purchasing a couple storage ottomans. They make for chic-looking stacking areas and provide extra seating for meetings or guests.

One desk lamp in a windowless room does not make for an inviting workspace. If your space has natural light, use it! You need the upcoming long hours spent working to be as pleasant as possible.

Try to keep your flooring/carpeting and furniture easy to clean so you can focus on your work instead of housekeeping.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Asphalt Driveway

Asphalt is a paving material made with stone aggregates, water and bitumen, a very sticky form of petroleum. It used to be a popular choice for residential driveways because of its high durability and low cost. While asphalt is still one of the most durable driveway materials the cost of blacktop driveways has risen with the cost of oil. Combined with the increased usage of concrete, the popularity of asphalt driveways has dropped in recent years. Additionally, many people hold the common misconception that there are few options when it comes to asphalt and that all you'll get is a boring black surface. A little research proves that there are actually more decorative asphalt options than most homeowners realize.

Recycled Asphalt Driveways
One driveway option that has become popular is recycled asphalt (RAP). For this type of driveway an existing blacktop surface is ground up into pieces the size of gravel, which can then be re-laid as driveway paving. Since many of the oils are still present the ground up pavement will bind together over time and become more cohesive than regular gravel. A recycled asphalt driveway should cost less than a new one.

Tar & Chip Driveways
Another option is a tar and chip driveway, which resembles the look of gravel with the solidarity of asphalt. Tar and chip is basically an asphalt drive that has stone aggregate seeded into the surface. This type of driveway can be made to look much lighter and more natural than plain asphalt. Tar and chip driveways provide excellent traction, but can make snow removal difficult. Additionally, they are also considerably cheaper than asphalt and don't require sealing. However, some people have reported problems with stones wearing away or coming loose do to vehicle traffic and weeds growing up through the surface.

Colored & Stamped Asphalt Driveways
Finally, you can choose a decorative asphalt which utilizes techniques that allow for the creation of colored and stamped asphalt driveways. Despite asphalt's dark nature, it can be colored many shades - ranging from soft, creamy colors, to warm, bold colors. StreetPrint®, the pioneering stamped and colored asphalt product is available in twenty-four colors. An asphalt driveway can also be stamped with a steel template to mimic stone, brick or pavers. StreetPrint® offers patterns such as offset brick, herringbone, ashlar slate, European fan and many more.

Source: Landscaping Network

Friday, February 15, 2013

Buying a Garbage Disposal

When the time comes to replace an old garbage disposal there are a number of things to consider. To get the best use of this kitchen appliance it is important to buy the right one for your kitchen. Not all garbage disposals work the same so it is a good idea to consider all the options.

Currently the most popular and best selling garbage disposal brand is InSinkErator. They seem to be the most competitive with regards to quality, price, and durability. While there are other great brands available, InSinkErator is quite prevalent at most home improvement stores. Often they may be the only choice available.

Aside from brand there are several important elements to consider when selecting a garbage disposal. The price is usually dictated by the unit’s horse power and size. Other things to consider are noise level, components, and special concerns like a septic tank.

This guide is organized by horse power so it can apply to any brand of garbage disposals.

1/3 Horse Power - The lowest horse power garbage disposals available are 1/3 horse. Although they may seem like a great economical option their utility level is quite limited. They get easily jammed and usually have the cheapest internal components which will rust out in the shortest amount of time. This option should only be considered for very limited or temporary use.

1/2 Horse Power - This is usually the minimum horse power recommended for typical home use. These can usually be purchased for less than $100 so they are still an affordable option. They are smaller and can usually easily fit into tighter spaces. This unit size is a great option for those who do not use their disposals all of the time and do not over feed the garbage disposal.

The noise level tends to be quite high for these disposals. Also, it is important to run a lot of water with these units to help all of the food go down. Whenever possible opt for a 1/2 horse power garbage disposer with Stainless Steel Grind components which will make it last much longer.

3/4 Horse Power - This is a great size for a garbage disposal which can serve most kitchens quite well. At this size they will have plenty of power for all those left overs and more. Most like the InSinkErator Compact (my favorite) can grind things like potato peels, celery, and much more with no problem.

With this much horse power disposals will not get jammed so easily and many more features are available. Stainless steel grind components for instance offer a much longer life, so look for that whenever possible. Also, most disposals at this size will have more sound protection, so they can run even quieter than the 1/2 horse power units. One thing to keep in mind though, these tend to be a bit bigger than the 1/2 horse power disposals, so make sure you have the room to install one under your kitchen sink.

1 Horse Power - Do you feel like grinding chicken bones, fruit rinds, coffee grounds and much more? Well disposals of 1 horse power will do the trick. Most of the 1 horse power models are the top of the line like the InSinkErator Evolution Excel. They can end up being quieter than even the 3/4 horse power models. All at this level should be fully stainless steel in the grinding chamber, have more room for more food at at time, and be virtually impossible to jam.

Note that these will tend to be quite large and you will need quite a bit of space under the sink. Units of this size with reverse osmosis systems can end up taking up the majority of the room under the sink. These are great units. If you have the room and the money a 1 horse power garbage disposal can be well worth it.

Homes With Septic Tanks - Septic tanks require additional consideration but a garbage disposal is not out of the question. There are garbage disposals that have a special cartridge on the side of the unit that injects the food waste with a natural microorganisms to help with the break down of the food. These cartridges can be less that $15 dollars and last up to 6 months. On top of helping the septic tank they also have a citrus scent that help with controlling the odor from the sink and drain.
Source: About Plumbing

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kids Room Updates

Does it seem like you just went shopping for a nursery crib and now your teenager is growing out of their bed! Time flies, especially when you have children, and the ability to have furniture last longer than their clothes is often a challenge. Kid’s room decor should be versatile to adapt to their growing age, but also fun for them, as they have to live in the space. If you’re struggling to try and find furniture that doesn't have to be replaced every year, here are a few tips to grow up with your child.

Versatility goes far: One of the easiest ways to have your room grow with your child is to make their bedroom versatile. Use bunk and loft beds when kids are younger, as they grow, convert the floor area to desk and chair area. Even for college students, this is a great solution that allows you to buy one piece that is versatile for years to come. Convertible beds that convert from nursery cribs into toddler beds and then full size beds are other options to be versatile and cost effective.

Change colors with your child: One of the easiest ways to update your child’s room is with wall color. With a paint can and a paint brush, youthful children’s rooms can be updated with hip, teenage-friendly colors. If your son’s sky blue room is too youthful for him and his teenage friends, consider a modern taupe, or green palette to modernize the room and his spirits! The beauty of wall color is your child and you can quickly change the mood of the room, and decor as you both desire. Coordinate bedding, window treatments, and area rugs to bring the entire room together visually.
Create versatile activity areas: What once was the toy bin and activity table are now replaced with laptops and iPod docking stations! Other simple ways to update your kid’s room is to create activity areas that will accommodate their changing interests and hobbies. In younger children’s rooms use hanging wire systems to hang school art work. As children grow turn to playful bulletin boards, and creative organization wall systems from your favorite organization store. Find creative ways to store their school and art supplies, and adapt their look and color to coordinate with the decor as it changes.

Utilize modular furniture: Instead of buying a entire bedroom suite of nursery furniture that will have to be sold, or donated a few years later, consider using modular furniture. Modular furniture will enable you to keep a few key pieces, and swap out others as the child’s needs change. For example, a desk area can remain the same for many years, while a bed is ever changing with their size. Modular furniture also gives you the ability to mix and match colors and styles to give the room an updated look, without the pricey revamp of redoing the entire room.

Updating your kid’s rooms with their age just became easier. Look through kid’s organization catalogs from popular home furniture manufacturers to get ideas and inspiration for your home. Depending on your lifestyle and how many children share a room, and their ages will help dictate what pieces of decor can be changed the easiest. To save money, re-purpose furniture from other rooms of the home, and paint existing furniture to change with your child’s age. Life is too short to be stuck with the same decor, and your child will be an adult before you know it!

Source: Fresh Home

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bathroom Accent Tile

Remodeling your bathroom allows you to choose a whole new feeling for the room, but it can be costly. One way to get the look and feel you desire without breaking the bank is to utilize accent tile in purposeful ways.

Accent tile is more expensive than standard tile, and come in about every color, pattern, and material you can think of. The most cost-effective way to use accent tile is to use a cheaper, plain tile all over the bathroom, and use the accent just in bits. The less you use, the less it will cost.

Make a visual waterfall with a thick swath of accent tile or make the room look wider with a horizontal stripe as a chair rail.

For more ideas, read this article at Houzz.

Friday, January 11, 2013

And the Kitchen Sink

Have you started thinking about replacing your kitchen sink? Replacing this one item can change the look of your kitchen, sprucing up your existing space. You have choices in material, with stainless steel being the most popular.

Under Mount Sink
Under Mount Sink
You may want to replace your counter top or leave it be. If you keep the existing counter top, you will want to use the same type of sink you currently have now: under mount, or top mount. With an under mount sink, you can see the finished inner edge of the counter top as it connects to the sink, which is literally mounted (or attached) underneath the counter top.

Top Mount Sink
If your counter top does not have an under mount sink currently, that edge is not finished as a standard, and you will need to use a top mount, or surface mount, sink. This means that the sink is sitting on top of the existing counter top and attaches from above.

Bar Sink
Top Mount Sink
with 2 holes
A bar sink is a shallow sink, usually 6 inches deep, as opposed to the more standard 8 inches of a kitchen sink, and is meant for rinsing and washing glassware, as in a bar or restaurant. You will want to avoid a bar sink for your home kitchen if it is your only sink. Larger kitchens may want to have both.

The price difference between an under mount and top mount sink is minimal, but you can save a little money with a top mount sink as the counter top does not have to have that finished edge, or holes for your faucet, which carry an additional charge for labor.


When shopping for a top mount kitchen sink, the last factor you want to consider is the number of holes in the sink. You may want to look for a faucet you like (or examine the faucet you are putting back in) and see how many holes it requires for installation. Sinks come with 0-4 holes, which are used for the faucet, hot/cold knobs, and soap dispenser. The faucet you choose will specify how many holes it requires. Often, but not always, a plate can be installed to cover the extra holes. These are all factors to consider in your sink shopping comparisons.

Friday, January 4, 2013


This year, set a resolution you can accomplish: Resolve to finish your to-do list. Don't leave anything to roll over through December, like last year. Whenever you have little bits of money, put it toward a small project and kick it out; like adding those shrubs or repotting the flowers. Whenever you have a free afternoon, tighten those bolts and put a coat of paint where it needs to be.

Also, know your limits. If you have a bad back, a busy schedule, or just are not that good with a hammer, it is easy to ask your friendly local contractor for a helping hand.

If you feel you picked a project that you could do yourself, but you realize that you're in too deep, call me and I'll finish it up for you, no guilt, no questions asked.