Flagstone Patio

When it comes to materials used to pave a patio, you have a variety of choices. You can use concrete – durable, affordable. Or you can use brick – economical and a common choice. However, if you want something that is a little different and yet have that timeless quality that all classic materials seem to have, then consider a flagstone patio.

Among homemakers, flagstones are just as popular as bricks. As for durability, flagstone patios are superior to concrete. And on top of all that, if you use flagstones, you can rest assured that your patio is going to wear the mark of timeless beauty.

Aesthetics – this is the other side to designing a patio. While the patio has its practical purposes, but you should never forget that other aspect of your patio. A great patio can enhance the beauty, charm, and ambience of your home. What’s more, if installed properly, the patio can even contribute to the resale value of your home. So that’s how important having a great patio is.

With flagstone patios, you can never go wrong. After all, what is not to love about flagstone patios? They are elegant and timeless and breathtakingly beautiful. With a patio made of flagstones, you have one classic beauty right in your home.

Flagstone patios are perfect for Sunday afternoon teas, lemonades with a few neighbors, play time with the kids. You can even install flagstones poolside to give that classic feel to your backyard.

Flagstone patios can also complement informal barbecue parties. Flagstones have that kind of mutable quality that make them fit anywhere you put them and for whatever purpose. You can turn them into stepping stones leading towards a secret passage in your garden, for instance. Or you can line them around a fountain or a pond that is the main focus of your backyard. The possibilities are endless with a flagstone patio.

There is just one overriding concern that homemakers have about flagstone patio. Somehow, people think that flagstones are expensive materials to have. But this does not to be the case. In fact, if you decided to do the installing, the whole project could be very economical, plus you get the added benefits of creating a patio that is the envy of the whole neighborhood.

Installing a flagstone patio is not very difficult. There are even many do-it-yourself guides available to take you every step of the way from preparing the plan to adding the finishing touches. Start by conducting an online search over the internet for flagstone patio plans and installing guides. Or you can also check out magazines and books on the subject.

Of course, where you buy the material is going to matter very much. Do not confine yourself with only one shop when shopping for materials. Be the discriminating buyer and shop around carefully.

Prefinished Hardwood Flooring – Many Different Color and Finish Selections

Prefinished hardwood flooring has undergone many changes since hardwood flooring became the fashionable alternative for floors of a home. At one time, when you purchased hardwood, you bought the wood unfinished. This meant that when you installed it, you then had to stain the flooring and give it a protective coat and a shine. Today, you can still buy unfinished hardwood, but with the many types of prefinished wood, you can save yourself a lot of work by buying prefinished hardwood flooring.

Each prefinished hardwood flooring manufacturer has various color selections available along with different sizes of boards and finishes. The thickness of boards for prefinished wood floors can range from ¼ inch thick to ¾ inch thick. The top layer of the prefinished hardwood is the most important because it is the part that has to endure the wear and tear. The thicker the layer is, the more times you can refinish the wood floors in the future. The various widths you can choose from in prefinished wood flooring are a matter of personal taste. When you visit a flooring store, you can experiment by laying the boards of different widths of hardwood side by side to see what effect it would create.

The side edges of the prefinished hardwood flooring boards are also an important factor to consider. You can choose micro bevel, also called eased edge, bevelled and square edged hardwood boards. Each one of these achieves a different effect in the prefinished wood flooring that you have. The types of finished for prefinished wood floors also vary according to manufacturer, but these are applied in a factory under ideal settings. Usually hardwood floors have seven coats of finish on them when you buy the packages of prefinished hardwood.

The newest finish on the market for prefinished hardwood flooring contains aluminum oxide, but there are also acrylic, urethane or UV cured among the finishes. There are also several levels of sheen – gloss, semi-gloss and mat. The number of coats on the prefinished wood floors will determine the level of shine that you have. Even though unfinished hardwood flooring is still popular, prefinished wood flooring makes up more than half of the sales for wood floors. This is because it allows people to remodel their homes with less time. All you have to do is install the flooring without having to worry about stains, coatings, fumes or drying time.

The ease of installation with prefinished hardwood floors makes them very popular with building contractors. Engineered wood flooring is also an increasingly popular item when people want the look of hardwood floors without the expensive price tag. These to come in different colors, but you will not get the same variety in the types of hardwood that you can have for your floors. When you choose prefinished hardwood floors, you can choose from many types of wood, each with its own advantages and unique qualities.

Spring Cleaning A Breeze With Clean Sweep Tips

Personal satisfaction. That, said Peter Walsh, organizational guru and host of TLC’s popular show “Clean Sweep,” is what spring cleaning is all about. It triggers homeowners to revive their home and renew their lives. “Cleaning does not have to be a list of dreaded chores, it can actually be a rewarding experience,” added Walsh. “Spring is the perfect time of year to get your home and life organized.”

Following a simple checklist and using the right products for each job can be key, according to Walsh. According to cleaning experts, “Today’s homes feature surfaces that require special care and protection. From stainless steel to stone countertops, fine wood and leather, each requires a product that will clean and showcase its beauty.” Tackling high-traffic rooms, such as the kitchen, can be a breeze following this simple checklist:

• Start Slowly. It takes months for a home to become cluttered so it’s not realistic to try to organize everything in one day or even a weekend. Instead, start small-one drawer, one cupboard or one shelf at a time. Make a commitment every day to clean sweep another room until it’s done.

• The One-Month Cardboard Box Test. As clutter accumulates over time, the first step to getting clean and organized is to seriously pare down the number of items in each room. Empty the contents of drawers, clean objects under beds and sort through closets. Put everything in a big box. For one month, put back only the items you use. If after four weeks you haven’t used it, you probably don’t need it.

• Tackle High-Traffic Rooms. The kitchen has become the unofficial gathering place of most homes. From overflowing junk drawers to chaotic cabinets, kitchens are a magnet for mess and clutter. First, make sure your kitchen is clutter-free. Next, focus on appliances and flat surfaces. You can remove burned-on food from your stovetop and make the surface shine by using Weiman Cook Top Cleaner or Weiman Cook Top Quick Wipes. To get rid of irksome fingerprints from stainless appliances and create a streak-free shine, try Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish or Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes.

• Use the Right Products. Cleaning an entire house means cleaning a lot of different surfaces. From granite countertops in the kitchen to a leather club chair in the family room, it’s important to use a product that is specifically formulated to nourish and protect that surface in addition to cleaning it.

A Few Tricks To Help Any Dog Trainer

Training a dog is an endeavor which requires a plethora of patience, but if done correctly is also immensely rewarding. In all my life I have known no feeling like companionship greater than that feeling I have with my two dogs. If you’re interested in learning more, read this article.

If your dog just can’t stay away from your garden, try a harmless repellent that you can sprinkle around your plants. You can find them at many local retailers and nurseries. If you can’t find these products, try moth balls or alum powder which have also been shown to be effective at keeping dogs away.

Anxious dogs might benefit from having music played when you leave. Classical music is proven to be soothing for a variety of species, and dogs are no exception. Calm, soothing classical music played at a mellow volume might be a benefit to your dog and keep the house from being silent while you’re gone.

Don’t allow your dog to drag you around. You are leading him, not vice-versa. Use a good training collar and a short leash to begin obedience training, and make sure to keep your dog at heel when walking and to pass through doors and gates ahead of your dog. Remember, you are the leader!

When you do give your dog correction verbally, make those corrections short, sharp and to the point. Do not drag on in a rant to your dog about how bad they are. Simply say no, and direct them to what you want them to do instead. Also make sure that the volume of your voice commands their attention and lets them know that you mean business.

One tip to keep in mind when training your dog is to stop your dog during the behavior you want to change. This is important to ensure that your dog knows when to stop a certain action and what to replace it with. An example would be to never allow it to jump on anyone, and always discipline and correct the dog mid-action.

Some training techniques advise that you give your dog a treat as a reward for good performance. This is a great method, but be sure you’re not giving your dog a treat every time they perform the task. If you do, they come to expect the treat each time and when you stop with the treats, the obedience stops as well. Instead give the dog a treat randomly so that they don’t begin to expect when they get a treat.

If your dog is digging up your yard, they may be bored. The biggest cause of destructive behavior in dogs is boredom. Simply putting them out in a back yard does not necessarily mean they are getting exercise. Try making sure they have some activity by taking them for long walks, or if you must stay home, a long game of fetch. Your dog will be too tired out to bother digging.

This article hopefully gave you some tips and ideas on how to train your dog. As they are still animals at heart it does take a little work, and a little technique. However, there is a lot of useful information from this article that can get you started on training your dog.

Scotland’s castles and estates face funding challenge

After centuries of being an agriculturally based economy, the more rural parts of Scotland are having to come to terms with huge changes in the global economy. Many estates and castles that dominate them, traditionally were supported by a mixture of agriculture, forestry, sporting rights and a huge annual grant from the European Union. All these sources of income have come under attack and in some cases have disappeared. Agriculture is extremely volatile and does not produce the income it did, forestry is depressed, grants are being phased out and there is a glut of shooting and fishing available. This has all hit the rural economy over the last decade or so.

Combine this with a huge increase in equipment costs and maintaining old buildings, along with a certain amount of wear & tear that our harsh climate produces and you have a challenging situation facing the owners of Scotland’s old ancestral homes. Unless they have other income streams independent of the estate, they are facing a grim future. Many owners do indeed now work in other industries and channel those resources into maintaining their properties. Most do a combination of traditional farming and sporting activities, combined now with private lets and other commercial activities. These could include offering castles for rent, marketing the property as a venue for film shoots, weddings, concerts and corporate events.

Fortunately many are located close to wonderful golf courses, so make perfect venues for golfing parties, whilst others allow easy access from major cities so can welcome corporate groups to dine or to hold special events. More rural properties tend to specialise more in the sporting market, although Ackergill Tower, which is located near Wick, is the premier country house operation in Britain and you don’t get much more rural that Caithness. They manage this by offering amazing service, huge amounts of Highland charm and wonderful facilities. Other properties have followed their lead and many now enjoy high occupancy levels.

There are now properties available to suit all incomes and preferences and it has been the saving of many of our fine old homes. The improvements and re-investment that many have made over the last decade is astonishing and the market for private rentals is now very sophisticated, with many properties offering hotel level facilities (swimming pools, tennis courts, spa treatments, broadband internet access, fancy chefs and premier cru wines). The interiors of many have been totally refurbished and additional bathrooms, new kitchens, media rooms etc have been added.

It should be noted that ownership of many of these homes has changed hands over the last decade or so and many that were the old family homes of prominent Scottish families are now owned by admirers of Scotland from all over the world. It is their enthusiasm, energy and most importantly resources that have brought back many properties from the brink of ruin. They have also be sensible to look to the future and many realised early on that only by diversifying into new areas like private rentals and corporate events could they recoup some of their upkeep costs. Indeed many of the homes run at a deficit of around £100,000 a year and this is where new income sources come in handy for their survival.

Of course as Scotland prospers and there is more and more building going on, along with wind farms, electrical masts and other light industry and office developments, many estates have found yet more ways of bringing in much needed funds. However most still use a combination of all or some of the above and many now welcome guests to take over their homes for a family celebration or other event and to live like a laird, without the hassle of actual ownership!

Pave the Way to Your New Brick Patio

Need a new project? Get outside and build a new patio or sidewalk, even if you already have one.

Many patios and sidewalks are made of poured concrete. If you’d rather have something that doesn’t look worn and dirty – and doesn’t need to be power washed each spring – consider laying new brick pavers directly over the old surface.

“There are a number of advantages to doing it this way,” says Laura Schwind, a registered landscape architect for Pine Hall Brick, the largest supplier of clay pavers in the United States. “The biggest is that the base is already there, and you instantly improve the appearance of your property without having to dig up your old concrete and haul it away.”

With concrete that’s smooth and even, start by choosing the type of clay paver and a pattern. Keep in mind that there are “thinner” pavers (1 3/8-inch) for these applications, and that some patterns, like herringbone, will require more cuts than others.

Next, lay a “soldier course,” which means laying a line of bricks perpendicular to the edge of the concrete to form the outside frame of your project. The secret is to use four dots of masonry adhesive on each brick, each about the size of a penny, which allows rainwater to pass underneath.

On the inside of the soldier course, cut pieces of roofing felt to put a single layer inside the frame covering the concrete, and don’t overlap the felt edges. Then lay a second layer of felt perpendicular over the top of the first layer.

Starting at one corner, begin laying the brick in place, leaving a 1/8-inch gap between the pavers for sand. Finish by sweeping concrete sand between the joints until they are full.

“It’s time and effort,” says Schwind. “But it’s worth it. When you’re done, you’ll have the beginnings of a new outdoor room where you’ll want to spend some time relaxing.”

Hide Your Floors

Leather flooring is one of the most luxurious and decadent flooring imaginable. Walk bare-foot and the surface immediately adjusts to your body temperature. It feels warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also, never loses that wonderful, pleasing leather scent. Over time, the increased wear creates the appearance of rich patina, or the look that gives leather its unique character.

Leather tiles are available in a myriad of earthy colors as well as custom shades, inlay, laser engraving and embossing. They are approximately 1/8″ thick and come in all sizes. Go for the standard 12″x12″, 24″x24″ or go for decorative borders, inserts, herringbone patters or custom layouts. Design choices are limited only by your imagination.

In addition to flooring, leather makes a luxurious covering for wall paneling or even crown molding. The styles range from traditional and sophisticated, to modern and contemporary.

Leather tiles work well in most areas of the house, adding a rich and inviting feel to a dining room or living room. They create a warm and relaxing atmosphere in a sitting room or library, and work well in media rooms because leather is great for sound control. The comfort of walking barefoot on these floors makes it a popular choice for the bedroom. Installation in the kitchen or bathroom is not suggested, due to the large amount of moisture, and harsh cleaners the tiles would be subjected to.

Maintenance

When first installed, the tiles require an initial coating of paste wax followed by two or three coats of bowling alley wax. It’s very important to apply the paste wax first or you may get a white haze on the leather. Subsequent tile maintenance is fairly easy; consisting of a regular dry dust mopping and intermittent damp mopping for general cleaning. Spills should be wiped up immediately to avoid any build of moisture for an extended period of time.

Things to avoid

Never wax leather wall tiles.

Refrain from using abrasive cleaners, soap, furniture polish, varnish, solvent, ammonia products, or wax containing a high concentration of Carnauba.

Never place rubber backed or non-ventilated rugs, rug padding or mats on top of the leather.

Exposing the tiles to direct sunlight for extended periods of time may cause fading or color variations.

Installation
Leather tiles can be glued to any wood or concrete surface. Painted or treated floors need to be sanded or roughed up prior to installation to ensure the glue will adhere to the surface. Floors need to be clean, level, with any cracks filled and sanded. Just one grain of sand will surface under the tile, making it appear larger.

The glue should be a non-flammable water based adhesive applied to both the back of the tile and the floor. Once it has dried to the touch, it can be pressed in place. Leather tiles are prone to curling and shrinkage, so it’s imperative the tiles are stuck extremely tight.

Wall Clocks tell time and decorate!

Clocks can be of any type – they could be wall clocks that not only decorates the walls, but also tells time or a mantel piece resting on one’s table etc.. Wall Clocks can be of one of two types. Analog and Digital. While digital clocks are precise, the analog clock serve the same purpose. With the increasing need to be accurate, and every microsecond accounted for Digital clocks are the way to go.
Wall Clocks are a central time telling pieces. Be it a work place, home or a visiting place, its always nice to look up and know what time it is. After all time is money. They can also help other ways – for example a family can set a family alarm while a school can have a clock with a really loud alarm and a microphone attached to it. Apart from serving a functional requirement, of telling the time, the Wall clocks can be used extensively as decorative pieces, collectors items and even investments.
You should see some on the large wall clocks tucked away in a mansion somewhere or an extensively decorated cuckoo clock. Wall Clocks are about more than telling time. They are about style.

Pool Decks: The Perfect Accessory for Aboveground Pools

Swimming pools are popular in the United States. In fact, they are so popular that you may even have one in your own backyard. If you do, which type of swimming pool do you have? Do you have an in-ground pool or an aboveground pool? If you answered aboveground, how do you get in and out of your pool? If you are like most other pool owners, you climb in and out by using a ladder. How would you feel if there was an easier way to enter and exit your pool?

When it comes to aboveground pools, there are many pool owners who wish that they were more attractive. While most aboveground pools come with modern décor, many are still unflattering. This is often due their large bulky size and unflattering pool ladders. If you are interested in improving the appearance of your aboveground pool, you may want to examine what a pool deck can do for you.

Pool decks are similar to traditional decks, the ones that attach to most homes. Most of these decks are made of wood. What is nice about pool decks is that they can stand alone or they can be attached to another fixture, such as a home. Pool decks can also come in a wide variety of different sizes. Many pool owners have pool decks that circle around their entire pool, while others only have a few feet of deck space. If you are interesting in attaching a pool deck to your aboveground pool, you can choose to have a large or small deck, the decision is completely yours.

If you are interested in having a pool deck added on to your pool, you will have a number of different options, when it comes to purchasing one. If you are looking for a pool deck that is small in size, you may be able to order a pre-made one. Similar to pre-made pool houses, pre-made pool decks are constructed by trained professionals and then transported to your home for installation. While it is nice to have a pre-made deck installed, you may find that their cost is high, when compared to your alternatives.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, you may want to consider constructing your own pool deck. With the proper supplies, which can be obtained from most lumber yards, you should easily be able to make your own pool deck. If you are inexperienced in construction, you may be able to find a number of free instruction guides online. These instruction guides may provide you with detailed directions and helpful tips for making your own pool deck. However, even with a detailed instruction booklet or manual, you may be unable to build your own deck. If this is the case, you may want to seek professional assistance.

When it comes to seeking professional assistance, with the construction of a pool deck, you will want to seek help form a local contractor. If you are unfamiliar with any contractors in the area, you can easily find a few of them by using your local phone book or the internet. To find the best prices, you will want to contact a number of different contractors and request free quotes. This is important because not all contractors charge the same amount of money. By going with the first contractor you meet, instead of comparing fees, you may end up paying too much money for your new pool deck.

By keeping the above mentioned points in mind, you may be able to find a pre-made pool deck or have one constructed for a reasonable price. As previously mentioned pool decks help to increase the appearance of most aboveground pools. In addition to increasing the appearance, you may also find that they make it fun and easy to enter or exit your pool.

Modern Lamps

Lamps of different kinds used for different lighting needs. One can’t find a home without a lamp that decorates the interior. Before the advent of the electric lights, homes were lit up with conventional lamps of different sizes and shapes. One can’t forget the popular Arabian fable the ‘Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp’. While the story speaks of a mysterious lamp, the new generation lamps can speak of the story of innovative lighting of the modern homes. Let us a have a closer look at some of these utility and ornamental lamps

While talking about lamps the first fixture that strikes in the mind is the table lamp. These are designed to use while reading or writing and made to fit on the top of a flat surface. The variety of table lamps available in the market is many to suit different purposes. The major variety of table lamps that are popular are contemporory, candle stick and trophy lamps. A candle stick lamp presents an elegant appearance. They are normally designed with a circular base and lean and tall body. The lamp shade is usually rests on the top of the thin body. Most of these lamps have the flexibility to move them to any direction of one’s choice and is a cute piece.

Now days many table lamps are artistically designed and carry beautiful works of art. They are also come with a variety of metal base like Iron and Bronze. Though such lamps may be a bit expensive it serves the purpose as a piece of art more than a lighting fixture.

Another variety of lamp is the floor lamps, normally tall and preferred to fit into the ambience of the well designed interior of a house or an apartment. They give sufficient light either to a specific area or to the entire room as per one’s choice. This is best suited to readers who enjoy late hours of reading at the comfort of their reclining chairs so that the lamp can be placed behind the chair to have a comfortable reading. Many artistic lamps are available in this category like the goose neck variety, the Tiffany floor lamps etc.

The adjustable arm floor lamp that facilitates the movement of lamp of any place of your choice in the house is a bit costly and has to be bought as per genuine requirement only.

There are also lamps specially designed for children. They come in plethora of styles and designs for both boys and girls. Some of these fun lamps come in cartoon characters, animals and birds to amuse and excite the younger ones.

School-age children also have their choice in desk lamps. Wonderful desk lamps that provide sufficient light to make their study and home work a pleasure are available in the market. They provide a wonderful gift to all studious children.

Lamps give light to the room where as designer lamps bring life to the rooms. Let there be enough light and life in our homes.