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Custom Home Building, Design, Uncategorized

When you have a small home, it is important that you find enough space to store all of your things. Many families have so many things that they can’t find space for everything and end up with a lot of clutter. This is why we have put together some tips on how you can increase the storage space in your home. Keep reading if you’d like to find out more

Make Use Of Any Space

Our first tip for those who want to increase the storage space in their home is to make use of any possible space. Many people have hallways that are empty, places behind larger pieces of furniture, and spaces below their stairs that they could be using for storage space. You should think about rearranging your home to see if you can find any extra space and make your home a lot less cluttered looking.Making storage efficient underneath your bed is a great place to start.

Build An Outdoor Storage Space

If you fancy a bit of DIY, then why not try building your own outdoor storage space? You can purchase steel building kits which are really easy to order, and you will be able to assemble your own steel building in no time at all. You can then use this building to store whatever you want and maybe even turn it into a new room to make your home feel bigger. Try adding a steel building to your property if you want and efficient way to increase your home’s storage space.

Use The Walls

When it comes to finding that extra bit of storage space in your home, you need to look up and try to use your walls. You might find that you have a lot of storage solutions that sit on your floor, but do you have any shelves? Shelves can look great in many different rooms and can come in really handy when it comes to finding space to put things. Always think about hanging things on your walls in your kitchen or bedroom if you want to be able to fit a lot more in these areas where quick-and-easy access is more important.

Our final tip for those who want to increase the storage space in their home is to invest in some multipurpose furniture. If you have a spare room that you don’t use all of the time, then why not swap the bed out for a sofa bed or day bed?This means that you can use this room as an extra bedroom and living space depending on what your current needs are. You should also think about getting a bed with some storage space underneath it or other multipurpose furniture for items like shoes.


Custom Home Building, Design
If replacing a kitchen sink, you’ll think about style, size, and—perhaps most importantly—material. Some materials are highly durable and resistant to stains, scuffs, and scratches, while others are more delicate, better suited to light to medium use. So read on for the strengths and potential drawbacks of seven best kitchen sink materials so you can make the right choice for your kitchen remodel.  
The 7 Best Kitchen Sink Materials

1. Stainless Steel

Best for: All types of use; kitchens with stone or granite countertops Pros: Affordable; easy to clean and maintain Cons: Can be noisy; shows water spots Price: $-$$ Stainless steel is the most popular material for modern kitchen sinks, providing a sleek, contemporary look, especially when paired with granite, stone, or wood countertops. Undermount models lend a more elegant look than drop-in sinks. For a tough, sturdy sink, aim for 16 to 18 gauge (the measure of thickness) steel. Also check the series number, which pertains to how the steel was manufactured and whether or not it’s magnetic; 300 series stainless steel is not magnetic and so favored for structural products, like kitchen sinks. Plus, 300 series stainless contains both chromium and nickel to prevent corrosion and damage at high temperatures. A quality stainless steel sink ranges in price from about $110 to $850 (including faucet fixtures). Read more on Amazon about the top-rated stainless steel sink pictured above: Kraus Standart PRO Series Undermount Stainless Steel Sink.  
The 7 Best Kitchen Sink Materials

Photo: amazon.com

2. Copper

Best for: All types of use; farmhouse-style kitchens Pros: Antimicrobial properties; beautiful finish Cons: Expensive Price: $$$-$$$$ A bright, warm, rosy-colored copper sink will be a kitchen’s focal point, attractive as a standard undermount or drop-in model as well as farmhouse style. You can also choose between a smooth or hammered finish and a range of patinas. Copper also boasts the natural ability to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria. Scientists have found that copper molecules “punch holes” into bacteria membranes, inhibiting their metabolisms and halting growth—an asset that makes this one of the best kitchen sink materials when you consider that the cook space can be a breeding ground for germs. But a quality model that’s 99 percent copper and 1 percent zinc, that ranges between 14 and 18 gauge, will be pricey—starting at around $600 and going up to $1,200 depending on size, style, and brand. Be wary of lower-priced copper kitchen sinks that may contain thinner gauge metal, which damages more easily. Read more on Amazon about the top-rated copper sink pictured above: Sinkology Angelico Drop-In Copper Sink.  

3. Enamel

Best for: Light to medium use; traditional and contemporary kitchens Pros: Classic; adds to home value; long lifespan Cons: Heavy; requires special cleaning and care Price: $$ This old-fashioned, timeless kitchen sink is constructed of cast iron with a glass-based glaze, available in a variety of colors. Enamel has a softer, quieter look and feel than stainless steel, and its style can also increase home value—if it’s well maintained. Enamel sinks are heavy and need the support of reinforced countertops and cabinetry. They are also prone to staining and chipping, so use non-abrasive sponges to avoid surface scratches and a mild acid like vinegar to treat stains. If damaged, the enamel surface can be refinished with a DIY kit or by a professional. While new enamel sinks run between $300 and $600, a savvy shopper can find a good-condition salvage or vintage model for about $200 to $300. Read more on Amazon about the top-rated enamel sink pictured above: Houzer Porcela Series Porcelain Enamel Undermount Sink.  
The 7 Best Kitchen Sink Materials

4. Fireclay

Best for: Light to medium use; farmhouse and spacious modern kitchens Pros: Highly durable; easy to clean; long lifespan Cons: Limited colors; heavy and expensive; professional installation required Price: $$$-$$$$ Fireclay is a type of enamel that’s molded from white clay fused with glaze and heated to very high temperatures. These kitchen sinks resemble traditional cast-iron enamel sinks yet are more resistant to staining and scratching. (Over time and depending on use, the finish may require re-glazing.) And like their old-fashioned counterparts, they’re heavy and need reinforced countertops and cabinetry to support them. Fireclay is most common in white and off-white shades, though dramatic black and blue fireclay are available. The most striking model is a deep, single-bowl farmhouse style. Each fireclay kitchen sink is handcrafted, one reason for their higher price—between about $570 and $1400, not including installation. And because there will be slight variations in size and shape, pro install is necessary. But if splurging on a fireclay sink, buy the best: Rohl, Blanco, and LaToscana are recommended brands. Read more on Amazon about the top-rated fireclay sink pictured above: LaToscana Fireclay Farmhouse Sink.  
The 7 Best Kitchen Sink Materials

5. Solid Surface

Best for: Light to medium use; small, contemporary kitchens with lighter-weight cabinets and countertops Pros: Affordable; durable; customizable Cons: Shorter lifespan; discoloration over time; sensitivity to extreme heat; prone to scratches Price: $-$$ This manmade acrylic resin that goes by various brand names, including Formica and Corian, is used for both countertops and kitchen sinks. It has the look of enamel without the high price or the heavy weight. Be wary of selecting the least expensive option in this category: Costlier versions contain better-quality acrylic resins retain their glossy finish and white tone despite daily use, while cheaper solid surface sinks may contain a calcium powder filler and appear dingy and yellowed within a year. Prices start at $155 for acrylic-based solid surface sinks. Read more on Amazon about the top-rated solid surface sink pictured above: Swanstone Double Bowl Kitchen Sink.  
The 7 Best Kitchen Sink Materials

6. Stone

Best for: All types of use; kitchens with natural stone or wooden countertops Pros: Heat-resistant; long lifespan; adds value to your home Cons: Very heavy, extra reinforcement needed; proper sealing required Price: $$$$ Stone sinks—such as granite and marble (you can even find them made of petrified wood!)—bring a wow factor to the kitchen. Thanks to natural variegations and pigmentation, every stone sink is unique, and because they are carved from a single block, subtle variations in tone and texture are preserved. Stone, while durable, is also porous. Proper sealing is required to prevent scratching, staining, and damage from cleaning products and other chemicals. Stone sinks are also very heavy, requiring reinforced cabinetry. A pure quartz, marble, granite, or slate kitchen sink will cost at least $1000, not including installation. Read more on Amazon about the top-rated stone sink pictured above: Native Trails Slate Farmhouse Kitchen Sink.  
The 7 Best Kitchen Sink Materials

7. Composite

Best for: All types of use; large contemporary and traditional kitchens Pros: More affordable than stone; no sealing required; wide range of styles Cons: More expensive than steel and solid surface sinks; can be damaged by extreme heat Price: $-$$ This blend of quartz dust and acrylic resins offers the appeal of stone for less—quality composite models go for between $200 to $400. Composite also provides a uniform look, which some people prefer to stone, and it comes in a wide spectrum of colors, sizes, shapes, and styles. Composite kitchen sinks are extremely durable and need no additional sealing. While it stands up to heavy-duty use, be mindful of exposure to extreme heat, which may crack or damage the surface.   Source: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-kitchen-sink-materials/  

Custom Home Building, Design

Buyer’s Guide: Drywall Anchors

Get the right drywall anchors to safely, sturdily hang artwork, shelves, and other items without damaging your walls

The Best Drywall Anchors for Safely Hanging Items Up

Photo: istockphoto.com

Drywall—comprised of compressed gypsum (a soft sulfite mineral)—creates wonderfully smooth walls. Yet insert a nail or screw into it and it’s likely to crumble, often resulting in the fastener working loose and the hung item falling to the floor. The solution is to use drywall anchors, which are designed to spread within or behind the drywall panel, creating pressure that locks the anchor in place. Before you pick up any old anchor, shop smarter by considering the support you need for the wall-mounting project at hand and selecting the type of drywall anchor—sold on their own or in sets with screws—to match it. There are four different types of drywall anchors, largely distinguished by the weight of items to be hung. Keep reading to understand what’s available and check out our picks for the best drywall anchors in each category.

Know the Holding Power You Need

Drywall anchors come in various designs, sizes, and holding power (maximum weight of an object you can safely hang). While manufacturers are not required to list their anchors’ holding power, many do, either on the package or in the included literature. Additionally, basic drywall anchor types are associated with a range of holding power (see individual anchor descriptions below). Always use an anchor with a holding power that meets or exceeds the weight of the item you want to hang.
The Best Drywall Anchors for Safely Hanging Items Up

Photo: istockphoto.com

Selecting the Right Size for Screws and Drill Bits

Drywall anchors can be purchased separately from the screws they hold in place, but it’s wise to buy anchors that come packaged with the correct size screws if you don’t have a wide variety of screws handy. If you prefer to purchase the anchors and screws separately, you’ll find the required screw size on the package. If the type of anchor you select requires a pre-drilled pilot hole, you will also find the corresponding drill bit size on the package.

Understanding the Types of Drywall Anchors


The Best Drywall Anchors for Safely Hanging Items Up

Photo: istockphoto.com

True to their name, expansion anchors spread to create a tight bond with the wall and are designed to hold lightweight items. The anchor’s shank (tapered end) is split in half. To install, a pilot hole is drilled in the wall, the anchor is fitted into the hole, and then a hammer is used to lightly tap the anchor head flush with the wall. When a screw is inserted into the anchor, the split ends of the shank spread, expanding and putting pressure on the inside of the drywall to hold it securely. Expansion anchors are:
  • Often made of plastic but may also be made of nylon or zinc-coated metal.
  • Affordable, averaging $.03 to $.20 per anchor, depending on size.
  • Easy to install and DIY friendly.
  • Able to hold between five and 25 pounds, depending on brand and size (larger anchors hold more weight).
  • Not suitable for use on ceiling drywall as downward pressure could cause the anchor to slip out.


Also called “self-drilling” or “self-tapping” anchors, threaded drywall anchors are made from hard nylon or metal and are able to hold heavier items. They feature sharp, pointed shanks that can be screwed into the wall without a pre-drilled hole by using a screwdriver or a screw gun. Once the anchor is in the wall, the screw is inserted, which forces the sides of the anchor to flare and wedge the anchor tightly against the drywall. They have the following attributes:
  • Holding power of 25 to 75 pounds, depending on size.
  • Self-drilling; no pilot hole necessary.
  • Cost $.25 to $.40 per anchor, depending on brand and size.
  • Easy to install with screwdriver or screw gun.
  • Not suitable for use on ceilings.


Known as “molly bolts” or simply “mollies,” these metal sleeve-type hollow wall anchors provide medium-weight holding power, but offer a unique feature—the ability to remove the screw and reinsert it if necessary in the future. Here’s how it works: A pilot hole is drilled into the drywall and then the anchor is inserted into the hole. The underside of the anchor’s head features sharp metal tips that pierce the drywall surface. When the screw is inserted in the anchor, each twist of the screw forces the shank of the anchor to compress (lengthwise) while it expands sideways. When correctly inserted, the screw can be removed from the anchor, which remains securely in the wall and then reinserted. This makes it handy if you’re replacing items in the same spot—such as toilet paper holders. These anchors:
  • Have a holding power of 25 to 55 pounds., depending on size.
  • Require a pre-drilled hole.
  • Have a permanently attached shank, but the screw can be removed.
  • May be used in ceiling drywall for lightweight items, such as smoke alarms.
  • Cost $.25 to $.40 per anchor, depending on brand and size.


When you need serious holding power, opt for toggle anchors, which come in a variety of sizes, designs, and materials, including metal and plastic.
The Best Drywall Anchors for Safely Hanging Items Up

Photo: istockphoto.com

Traditional metal toggle bolts are the strongest of the bunch, but they’re not the simplest to install because they require drilling a hole that’s approximately three times wider than the diameter of the bolt (necessary to insert the anchor). With these, the anchor features one or two bars (or wings) that fold flat against the bolt during insertion. Once inserted, a quick twist of the bolt loosens the wings, causing them to flare outward. As the bolt is tightened with a screwdriver, the wings draw inward to form a strong perpendicular brace along the backside of the drywall. The installation challenge comes in keeping the bolt centered in the hole while tightening it. It takes some practice and patience to get it right, but once you do you’ll be impressed by the strong holding power. It’s more likely that the wall itself will fail before the toggle bolt does. Winged plastic anchors (the new kids on the block) feature plastic “wings” that fold tightly together so the anchor can be inserted into a pre-drilled hole. Once the anchor is in place, a wand (included with the anchor) is pushed through the hole to expand the wings on the backside. A screw is then inserted, which draws the wings snugly against the back of the drywall. Toggle bolts at a glance:
  • Maximum holding power for metal toggles is 100 pounds, depending on size; plastic wing toggles have a holding power up to 20 pounds, depending on size.
  • Both metal and plastic toggles can be used on ceilings at 1/3 the holding power listed for walls, up to a maximum of 15 pounds. Drywall may pull away from ceiling joists at heavier weights.
  • Metal toggles can be difficult to keep level in the wall during installation.

Our Top Picks

Our top four drywall anchor picks consistently excel in home use and are favorites among DIY customers. Unless noted differently, holding powers listed are for standard, 1/2” thick drywall.
The Best Drywall Anchors for Hanging Medium to Heavy Items on a Wall

Photo: amazon.com

BEST EXPANSION ANCHOR: Qualihome Ribbed Plastic Drywall Anchor Kit ($10.99)

For reliable support in light-duty situations (up to 15 pounds), rely on the Qualihome Ribbed Plastic Drywall Anchor Kit. It comes with 201 pieces (100 pairs of anchors and screws), so you’ll have plenty of anchors on hand. The anchor shanks are split, allowing them to expand (with screw insertion) for snug attachment. Amazon buyers give this kit 4.5 out of five stars for ease of installation and for the included drill bit (no need to hunt for a bit in your toolbox). Available from Amazon.
The Best Drywall Anchors for Hanging Medium to Heavy Items on a Wall

Photo: amazon.com

BEST THREADED ANCHOR: TOGGLER SnapSkru Self-Drilling Drywall Anchors with Screws ($17.08)

Manufactured from glass-filled nylon, TOGGLER SnapSkru Self-Drilling Drywall Anchors are rigid enough and sharp enough to screw into drywall without a pre-drilled hole. Amazon buyers give these anchors 4.3 out of five stars, citing ease of use and hefty holding power, securely hanging items up to 45 pounds. The pack of threaded anchors contains 50 anchors and 50 screws. Available on Amazon.
The Best Drywall Anchors for Hanging Medium to Heavy Items on a Wall

Photo: amazon.com

BEST SLEEVE-TYPE ANCHOR/MOLLY BOLT: Glarks Heavy Duty Zinc Plated Steel Molly Bolts ($14.87)

For versatility in the molly bolt category, go with the Glarks Heavy Duty Zinc Plated Steel Molly Bolt Assortment Kit. It comes with 42 anchors in six sizes, and is intended for use on 1/2”, 5/8”, and 3/4” drywall (two anchor sizes for each drywall thickness). Made of zinc-plated carbon steel, the largest of these sleeve-type wall anchors will safely hold items up to 50 pounds when installed in 3/4” drywall. The smallest anchors hold up to 18 pounds in 1/2” drywall, and the medium-size anchors hold up to 25 pounds in 5/8” drywall. You’ll find these mollies suitable for hanging coat racks, mirrors, and other medium-weight items—no wonder reviewers gave them 3.8 out of five stars! Available on Amazon.
The Best Drywall Anchors for Hanging Medium to Heavy Items on a Wall

BEST TOGGLE ANCHOR: Hillman Group Toggle Bolt (pack of 50) ($12.47)

With a holding power of up to 55 pounds, it’s tough to beat Hillman Group Toggle Bolts for installing shelving and other medium-weight items. You can also use these toggles to hang items that weigh up to 13 pounds from the ceiling. Amazon buyers give Hillman Toggle Bolts 4.5 out of five stars for their exceptional strength, noting that they’re the “best anchors if you can’t find a stud.” Available from Amazon. Source: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-drywall-anchors/

Fire, Preventative

Portable Heater Safety for the Chilly Months Ahead

Small space heaters are typically used when the main heating system is inadequate or when central heating is too costly to install or operate. In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in one room. They can also boost the temperature of rooms used by individuals who are sensitive to cold, especially elderly persons, without overheating your entire home. Space heater capacities generally range between 10,000 Btu and 40,000 Btu per hour, and commonly run on electricity, propane, natural gas, and kerosene (see wood and pellet heating for information on wood and pellet stoves). Although most space heaters work by convection (the circulation of air in a room), some rely on radiant heating. Radiant heaters emit infrared radiation that directly heats objects and people within their line of sight, and are a more efficient choice when you will be in a room for only a few hours and can stay within the line of sight of the heater. They can also be more efficient when you will be using a room for a short period because they save energy by directly heating the occupant of the room and the occupant’s immediate surroundings rather than the whole room. Safety is a top consideration when using space heaters. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations. When buying and installing a small space heater, follow these guidelines:
  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.

Vented and Unvented Combustion Space Heaters

Space heaters are classified as vented and unvented or “vent-free.” Unvented combustion units are not recommended for use inside your home, because they introduce unwanted combustion products into the living space—including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and water vapor—and deplete air in the space. Most states have banned unvented kerosene heaters for use in the home and at least five have banned the use of unvented natural gas heaters. Vented units are designed to be permanently located next to an outside wall, so that the flue gas vent can be installed through a ceiling or directly through the wall to the outside. Look for sealed combustion or “100% outdoor air” units, which have a duct to bring outside into the combustion chamber. Sealed combustion heaters are much safer to operate than other types of space heaters, and operate more efficiently because they do not draw in the heated air from the room and exhaust it to the outdoors. They are also less likely to backdraft and adversely affect indoor air quality. Less expensive (and less efficient) units use the room air for combustion. They do not have a sealed glass front to keep room air away from the fire and should not be confused with a sealed combustion heater. In addition to the manufacturer’s installation and operating instructions, you should follow these general safety guidelines for operating any combustion space heater:
  • For liquid-fueled heaters, use only the approved fuel. Never use gasoline! Follow the manufacturer’s fueling instructions. Never fill a heater that is still hot. Do not overfill the heater — you must allow for the expansion of the liquid. Only use approved containers clearly marked for that particular fuel, and store them outdoors.
  • Have vented space heaters professionally inspected every year. If the heater is not vented properly, not vented at all, or if the vent is blocked, separated, rusted, or corroded, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can enter the home causing sickness and death. CO also can be produced if the heater is not properly set up and adjusted for the type of gas used and the altitude at which it is installed.

Electric Space Heaters

Electric space heaters are generally more expensive to operate than combustion space heaters, but they are the only unvented space heaters that are safe to operate inside your home. Although electric space heaters avoid indoor air quality concerns, they still pose burn and fire hazards and should be used with caution. For convection (non-radiant) space heaters, the best types incorporate a heat transfer liquid, such as oil, that is heated by the electric element. The heat transfer fluid provides some heat storage, allowing the heater to cycle less and to provide a more constant heat source. When buying and installing an electric space heater, you should follow these general safety guidelines:
  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
  • Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.
If you have any questions about Fire Safety, feel free to contact Spectrum Building & Restoration at 541-385-0752.

Custom Home Building, Design
Fire pits are a hot commodity! These attractive additions can dress up a drab yard with mesmerizing flames while serving as a gathering place for afternoon barbecues, evening drinks, and late night s’mores. Before building a fire pit, however, you should become fully informed as to local regulations, construction requirements, and potential hazards. So study up here with these dos and don’ts so you won’t get burned!

DON’T build a fire pit without approval from local authorities.

Your local government, homeowners association, and house deed may impose restrictions on the size, location, material, and fuel type of home fire pits—or forbid them altogether—due to the potential for fire-related property damages. If your fire pit flouts these rules, you may be fined. Contact your municipality’s planning office and homeowner’s association, and review the deed for your house, to ensure that you comply with all restrictions and obtain any permits required for fire pit installation.

DO consider accessibility when choosing a fire pit size.

Building a fire pit yourself offers room for customization on every detail, size included. Local ordinances permitting, your fire pit should ideally measure between 36 and 44 inches wide (including the width of the walls) to accommodate multiple people around it while maintaining an intimate setting. Aim for a fire pit height of 12 to 14 inches from the base of the walls to the top of the walls if you want guests to be able to prop their feet on it while seated around it on standard 18-inch-tall dining-height patio chairs. Increase the pit height to 18 to 20 inches tall if you want to be able to comfortably sit directly on the edge of the pit.

DON’T position fire pits in hazard-prone zones with unfavorable winds.

Plan to install your fire pit on a patch of level ground in an open area of the yard that’s at least 15 feet from other residences and at least 10 feet from property lines, flammable structures such as wooden sheds, bushes, and trees. In addition, use the National Water and Climate Center’s Wind Rose tool to identify the prevailing wind direction in your location; you want to ensure that you won’t have smoke blowing into your home through open doors or windows.

DON’T use flammable or non-porous, water-retaining building materials.

Fire pits commonly consist of an inner wall, an outer wall, a “cap” (i.e., a flat tabletop-like surface around the opening at the top of the pit), and decorative stones or rocks in the center of the pit. The inner wall must be made of fireproof building materials, optimally fire brick; the outer walls should still be heat-resistant but can be made of traditional brick, stone, masonry blocks (consisting of brick, concrete, granite, etc.), concrete pavers, or even heat-resistant outdoor stucco or tile. Flagstone and crushed stone are ideal materials for the fire pit cap, and the stones in the center of the pit, respectively. No part of the fire pit should be made with flammable materials (e.g., plywood shipping pallets) or non-porous materials that hold water, such as pea gravel, river rocks, or compressed concrete blocks; these materials can trap steam and eventually explode. RELATED: How To: Build a Basic Backyard Fire Pit  
8 Top Tips for Building a Fire Pit

DO install a steel ring in the fire pit.

When building a fire pit, lining the innermost wall with a steel fire ring (available on Amazon from brands like Sunnydaze Decor) will prevent the wall material from drying out from regular exposure to the heat of the fire. As a non-combustible material, the steel will ward off heat and keep the wall itself from prematurely dehydrating and crumbling; this will preserve the looks and structural integrity of your fire pit longer.

DO consider fuel supply equipment and emissions when determining fuel type.

Ethanol, propane, and natural gas are all sound fire pit fuel options as they emit no smoke, sparks, or embers, and leave no ashes to clean up. Ethanol, the cleanest of all fuel types (it additionally burns without odor), must be supplied via an ethanol tank or tray and propane-fueled pits require a connection to a liquid propane tank. Natural gas-fueled fire pits have a more involved setup, however, as they require the gas company to install a supply line (do-it-yourself gas line installation isn’t recommended). While wood-burning fire pits require no gas lines, they kick up a high volume of smoke, sparks, and embers; call for frequent ash removal; and make large flames difficult to extinguish—all reasons why city planning departments commonly forbid them.  
8 Top Tips for Building a Fire Pit

DO factor in return on investment when weighing building costs.

While a basic fire pit costs $700 on average, prices run the gamut from $300 for a DIY install of a homemade fire pit, to $1,400 or more for a professional install of a pre-built fire pit. That said, fire pits are such a coveted architectural feature nowadays that you can expect to recoup 78 percent of your investment when you sell your home.

DO invest in fire safety gear.

If going forward with a fire pit installation, keep a fire blanket (a fire-retardant sheet usually made of fiberglass or Kevlar; available on Amazon from brands like Hot Headz) within reach to help smother the beginnings of a fire on nearby objects or people. Similarly, store a fire extinguisher in a nearby outdoor grill cabinet, shed, or garage. The extinguisher should be a multipurpose dry chemical model, which means it can effectively extinguish Class A (involving combustibles), B (involving flammable liquids), and C (electrical) fires. Source:https://www.bobvila.com/articles/building-a-fire-pit/  

We at Spectrum Building & Restoration want to express our gratitude and admiration for the brave and determined men and women who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Thank you for the great sacrifices you have made to serve abroad and at home to defend our safety and liberty. We also recognize and appreciate the sacrifice and dedication of your families. We celebrate and honor you today—and every day.   A little History about Veterans Day: The United States Congress adopted a resolution on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies.[2] A Congressional Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made November 11 in each year a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’ In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 as the driving force for the national holiday. Elizabeth Dole, who prepared the briefing for President Reagan, determined Weeks as the “Father of Veterans Day.”[4] source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day  

Preventative, Renovations

What Is Insulating Paint?

Demystifying Insulating Paint: All You Need to Know

Photo: insuladd.com

The notion of a paint to reduce heat transfer first arose at NASA in the hope of protecting the space shuttle from the extreme heat generated by reentry into the atmosphere. NASA scientists developed an additive that contained tiny glass spheres called “microspheres,” epoxy particles, and heat-resistant chemicals. The mixture was sprayed on the shuttle at the same time it was painted to form a protective coating. NASA later partnered with a company called Tech Traders and, expanding on the original insulating technology, to develop an insulating powdered paint additive, known as Insuladd, which contains microscopic ceramic spheres said to form a “radiant heat barrier” when mixed with regular interior or exterior house paint. Today, Tech Traders owns and sells Insuladd. Other manufacturers have since begun producing their own brands of insulating paint that contain either ceramic or glass microspheres—either as an additive or as a premixed paint product—both of which are marketed to homeowners for interior and exterior use. In addition to Insuladd, brands include Hy-Tech and Therma-Guard. Manufacturers advertise insulated paint as being able to reduce the transfer of both hot and cold temperatures.

Does It Work?

While insulating paint purports to work as a result of the microspheres forming a thin, heat-resistant bond, it relies on relatively new science and, to-date, independent large-scale testing is lacking. There has been a handful of small tests, including one conducted by Cold Climate Housing Research Center, which concluded that in cold climates, the insulating paint tested would not “be effective in reducing energy costs for residential homes.” The Florida Solar Energy Center conducted tests on both standard and insulating paints and concluded that insulating paint had “no significant advantage over ordinary paints.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cracked down on at least one company for misrepresenting its paint as being equal to seven inches of fiberglass insulation. As of yet, no R-value has been determined for insulating paint. On the flip side, EnergyIdeas Clearinghouse, a non-profit publication, in conjunction with Washington State University and the Northwest Energy Alliance, reported that Insuladd paint reduced heat gain by “approximately 20 percent when fully exposed to the sun.” That means the paint could conceivably produce an energy benefit if painted on the exterior side of a house that faced the hot summer sun. The report also stated that when painted on interior walls, however, “reductions in heat loss and gain are negligible.” When the goal is to reduce the amount of heat transfer produced by the sun, virtually any white or light colored paint will perform better than a dark paint on exterior house walls because light-color paint reflects heat away rather than absorbing it. But more importantly, so far there is no paint that will take the place of good insulating practices. Most local building codes require a specific amount of insulation, measured in R-values, for walls and ceilings. Your best bet is to follow a well-designed plan for keeping energy costs down, which includes installing standard insulation materials, such as fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose filaments, in addition to installing energy-efficient windows and doors. Source: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/insulating-paint/  

Preventative, Restoring

Last week we shared some home maintenance repairs that only take a few minutes to fix. Part 1 focused on 7 items that are easy fixes for homeowners and eager to-it-yourself’ers to tackle. Here are another 7 easy fixes that you can take care of yourself and save money instead of hiring the job out.

how to fix squeaky door hinges

Squeaky Doors

Doors that creak and moan when they’re opened and closed don’t hurt anything, but they sure can be annoying. Silence the squeak with lubricating spray, such as WD-40. Use the straw that comes with the can to direct the spray to the top crease in the hinge. Use the lubricant sparingly—a tiny bit goes a long way. It’s a good idea to hold a rag or paper towel behind the hinge as you spray to protect the door or jamb from overspray. Cabinet Doors Banging

Banging Cabinet Doors

If your cabinet doors bang loudly every time you shut them, the problem can be solved instantly by installing bumpers, such as GorillaGrit Cabinet Door Bumpers. Clean the cabinet door to remove gunk or residue, and then position two bumpers on its inside edge, one at about ½-inch from the bottom and another at the same distance from the top. Make sure you attach the peel-and-stick bumpers where the door makes contact with the cabinet base to muffle the sound of the cabinets closing. how to get rid of hard water stains

Unsightly Stains

Hard water can wreak havoc on tubs, showers, and sinks, leaving dark and dingy orange-brown stains that don’t come off with regular household cleaners. If you don’t relish using caustic cleaning products, or spending hours scrubbing the stains away, here’s a quicker fix. Mix lemon juice and cream of tartar (available in your grocer’s spice aisle) to form a paste, and then apply the paste directly to the stains. Leave the mixture on the stain for an hour and then rinse away to reveal a sparkling clean fixture. how to stop drafts around doors

Drafty Doors

An exterior door that doesn’t seal tightly when closed lets in cold drafts, which can result in increased heating bills. Stopping drafts is a simple fix that requires removing the old weatherstripping (just pull and scrape it off) and then installing new peel-and-stick weatherstripping. Opt for a weatherstripping kit, such as the WeatherGuard Door Insulating Kit that comes with a bottom door seal in addition to regular weatherstripping for an airtight seal. sticking door lock

Sticky Door Locks

Do you have to jiggle, coax, or turn the key forcefully to unlock your door? Corrosion and dirt buildup can make it difficult to use a key in a door lock—but if you’re experiencing problems, wait before you run out to replace a tricky lock. Try rubbing the cuts on the key with the lead of a graphite pencil, or squirt a little powdered graphite, such as Panef L-300 Powered Graphite into the opening in the lock. The graphite works to lubricate the tumblers in the lock so your key will turn with ease. sticky wooden drawers

Sticky Wooden Drawers

Over time, wooden drawers can begin to stick, making it difficult to open and close them, but you don’t have to live with sticky drawer syndrome. To help the drawer slide smoothly again, remove it from the cabinet and turn it over so you have access to the underside. Rub a bar of paraffin (found in your grocer’s canning aisle) along the both bottom edges of the drawer. The paraffin will lubricate the drawer and help it slide smoothly. mildew in washer

Moldy Washer

If your clothes come out of the washer smelling musty instead of clean, you probably have a bit of mildew in your washer. Fortunately, banishing the mildew is a quick and simple project. Put one cup of baking soda in the washer, and run one empty load on the hottest water setting. The baking soda will clean and remove all mildew growth so you can have fresh-smelling laundry again.

Custom Home Building, Preventative

Keeping your home in top-notch condition doesn’t mean spending all your free time on maintenance chores; some upkeep and repair projects can be done quickly and without the help (and expense) of a pro. If you have just a few minutes here and there, you can perform the following fast fixes without taking time away from your daily activities. Stop procrastinating and start getting your home shipshape!

Worn Fridge Seals

fridge door seal not sticking
If the magnetic seals on your refrigerator door aren’t sealing tightly, air can leak into the fridge, which forces the appliance to work overtime and shortens its useful life. Fortunately, replacing the seals is a super-quick DIY project. You’ll need a screwdriver to remove the metal strip that holds the old seal in place (look under the lip of the seal). Replacement seals can then be attached in the reverse manner. Contact your appliance manufacturer for details on how to repair faulty refrigerator seals. how to fix sticky vinyl windows

Sticking Vinyl Windows

Vinyl windows are affordable, long-lasting, and great at keeping out cold drafts. One downside of vinyl windows, however, is that over time dirt and grime can accumulate in the window tracks, which can make it difficult to open and close the windows. Banish the gunk and lubricate the window tracks with a little dry-type silicone spray, such as 3M Silicone Spray. Point and spray the crevice between the window and the jamb, then open the window and wipe the inside of the track with a clean cloth.   loose shower head holder

Wobbly Shower Head Woes

A shower head can begin to wobble when the pipe in the wall works loose over time—but stabilizing the pipe and steadying the shower head is a snap! Slide the shower head trim ring away from the wall (you may need a screwdriver) to reveal the base of the pipe and the hole beneath. Spray a little bit of expanding foam, such as GREAT STUFF Foam Sealant into the hole (not into the pipe), using the straw that comes with the can. The foam will swell and harden around the exterior of the pipe, stabilizing it. Slip the trim ring back into place and enjoy your new firm shower head. quick fix for squeaky hardwood floors

Squeaky Wood Floors

When wood rubs against wood it squeaks, sometimes quite loudly. If you have hardwood floors, you probably have one or two areas that always squeak when you walk on them. You can silence a noisy wood floor with a little bit of cornstarch. Just sprinkle it over an area that creaks, and then use a broom to sweep it into the cracks between the boards. The cornstarch will act as a dry lubricant between the wood surfaces to quiet the creaking. Ceiling Stains

Ugly Ceiling Stains

A leaky roof or a dripping pipe can run down and stain the ceiling below, leaving a dirty yellow mark that makes the whole room look dilapidated. If you’re not in the mood to repaint your entire ceiling, there’s a great way you can remove (or at least noticeably fade) the stain. Repair the leak first, and then fill a spray bottle with household bleach and water, using one-part bleach to five parts water. Spray the stain thoroughly with the solution. Within hours, the stain will fade noticeably—or even completely. low water pressure in faucet

Reduced Faucet Flow

Hard water deposits and little bits of debris can clog faucets and affect water flow. Good news, you don’t have to replace the faucet, but a little cleaning is in order. On the end of the faucet is a tiny aerator screen where debris can become trapped. When the screen is full of debris, it slows the water flow or forces it to spray out to one side. The aerator screen can be removed by twisting it to the left. Soak the screen in white vinegar to dissolve hard water deposits overnight and then reattach it.
wallpaper seams showing

Loose Wallpaper Seams

Wallpaper that wasn’t glued properly during installation has a tendency to come loose at the seams, making the entire wall look shabby, but it takes only a minute to fix. Soften loose paper by spraying the area with hot water, and then squeeze a little seam adhesive, such as Red Devil Wallpaper Repair Adhesive beneath the loose section. Press the paper firmly back into place, and then wipe away any excess with a damp cloth