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Category Archives: Home Improvement

Need Foundation Underpinning

Foundation underpinning has many meanings as the word can be used in construction or even in the make up world. In the area of construction foundation underpinning means the procedure that is adopted for stabilizing and increasing the strength of any existing structure or building. The strengthening of the existing foundation is done by increasing the breadth and the depth of the old foundation. This takes the foundation to a level of soil which is deeper than the surface soil on which the structure was built.

Foundation underpinning is required when you observe any kind of change in shape on the walls of the building that is the walls start bulging or develop cracks. Another factor that gives a warning about the weakening foundation is the defects that develop in the alignment of the doors and the windows of the house or the building. Cracks may also develop on the floor of the house or the building.

Must Know about Pergo Flooring

Pergo is just a name brand for a type of laminate flooring. It’s basically a company’s name. Granted, Pergo is more well known that a lot of other manufacturers, but in the end, it’s probably not worth paying more for “Pergo floors.”

Now if you’re new to all this, you might not be that clear on what laminate flooring is either. Basically it’s a material that’s made to look like hardwood. It’s made of synthetic materials (or sometimes synthetic materials combined with natural ingredients) that are topped with a wood-styled design.

The main benefit to laminate (including Pergo) is that it’s cheaper to buy than hardwood floors, but it still looks good. It’s also easier to care for than hardwood (it’s pretty impervious to scratches and dents and doesn’t need to be refinished periodically). Lastly, laminate floors can be installed by do-it-yourself types, whereas hardwoods typically need professional installation.

Despite these perks, many homeowners still prefer hardwoods to laminate. Wood is a tried and true flooring material that lasts for generations (while laminate is relatively new to the flooring world and, despite decades-long guarantees, has yet to be proven). Also, wood feels warmer and softer underfoot, and it’s all natural.

All about Concrete Foundations for Smaller Walls

Before starting to dig any trenches, however, there are a couple of points to be taken into consideration. You shouldn’t dig any trenches too close to the house, as they could undermine the building. This is especially so in the case of older houses, where concrete might not have been used in the foundations. Also, check with your local Authority to see if you need planning permission. I’ve heard of instances where they have insisted on walls being demolished because of the fact that planning permission was not sought beforehand.

For single thickness walls, which are 100mm (4in) thick, 300mm (12in) strip foundations should be adequate. For double thick walls, you’ll need to dig out a trench about 450mm (18in) wide. Remember that for a single thickness wall over 450mm (18in) high, you’ll need to build piers alongside it every so often to strengthen it. Those should be about 1.8m (6ft) apart, and you should widen the trench by 200mm (8in) to accommodate them. Dig down about 350mm (14in) or further until you find hard ground. You should begin the brickwork below ground level, so the top of your concrete should be set accordingly. If it’s going to be a fairly long wall, it might be worth your while hiring a skip. You can get rid of the soil straightaway, so that it won’t be in your way later on. If the ground has a slope in it, you’ll have to step the foundations–work out the height and the length of each step by using the size of the bricks that you’re going to use, plus allowing a bit extra for the mortar joints and beds. If you’re going to have a 90 degree angle in your wall, use a builder’s square, (remember your geometry from schooldays), which has sides of 3:4:5

For the concrete, you can use ready mix, but it can be expensive if you’re doing a large area. You can easily mix your own, using ballast that is made up of gravel and sharp sand along with ordinary cement. For a small amount of concrete, you can mix it by hand, but if there’s a large area, it’s probably better to hire a mixer. If mixing by hand, have your ballast on concrete or a sheet of plywood, so that it will be easier to shovel. Set some bricks at the required height (top of the foundation) a couple of metres apart, tip in your concrete, working it in with a spade to get rid of any air bubbles, and use a stout piece of wood to smooth it out between the bricks. Repeat this for the whole length of the foundation.

Remember that weather conditions can affect your well-laid plans. If you’re not going to lay the concrete straightaway, it’s advisable to cover the trench with boards and sheeting to keep the rain off.

Some Advantages from Cork Flooring

Natural cork is a fire inhibitor, not spreading the flame. Cork also does not release any toxic gases on combustion. Another major benefit is the fact that cork is antimicrobial and insect repellant. Even termites are unwelcome. The suberin, the inherent substance of cork, is a natural insect repellent

Perhaps the most valuable asset of cork flooring is the ease of maintenance. Today, waxing is no longer needed. Sweeping and mopping will be the usual maintenance. A few years down the road when the finish starts to wear off, lightly sand the floor and reapply a new coat of urethane. Your floor will last for several decades.

High heels and furniture can do no damage! Cork flooring tiles are typically protected with a durable environmentally friendly urethane containing no formaldehyde. When cork is subjected to pressure, the gas in the cells is compressed and volume reduces considerably. When released from pressure, cork recovers very rapidly to its original shape. Cork is remarkably resistant to wear, as it is less affected by impact and friction than other hard

Picks of House Foundation Layouts

The slab house foundation is a concrete slab poured on top of the soil grade with no spaces. No room for a crawl space or basement. These are typically used in areas where water can be high in the soil. The crawlspace foundation is used in areas where there is an abundance of clay soil. Crawlspaces allow you to have a small access between the soil and the first floor of the home.

The basement foundation is used a lot for colder climates because they sit below frost levels. A basement also allows you to have space between the soil and first floor, but unlike the crawlspace, a basement is large enough to be used as an extra room in the house.

House foundation layouts differ from house to house. Some house foundations use concrete masonry units or insulated concrete forms for the foundation walls and support. There are different forms for foundation layouts even though they are all typically made with concrete.

The foundation of any home is extremely important and should be evaluated in the instance of buying a new home. Damaged foundations can be the result of a bad deal. Foundations cannot be changed once the house is built so make sure your plans will suit all of your families needs.

To find out which foundation is best for you, think about cost, weather, soil and personal needs. Because a basement adds extra living space to a home it also costs more to have built. Think about all your options carefully before building your foundation because once it is dug, poured and built, it’s yours.

Information of Leather Flooring

Cowhide leather used to make tiles is 3/16 to ¾ inches thick. It is bonded to ½ to ¾ inch Birch plywood tiles. Each tile is grooved on all four sides for easy installation. Foam sheeting is laid down first as a vapor barrier. The room is measured and the tiles are custom sized to fit each room. It is done this way to prevent wastage.

Leather tiles will last 20 to 30 years if properly maintained. All you need to do is sweep or dry dust and wipe up spills immediately. It is also recommended that they be waxed occasionally. Leather floors used in wet areas like bathrooms or kitchens need to be sealed with an acrylic sealer.
Each tile will be unique. Through the years, the steer could have rubbed against barbed wire, injured by other steers etc.

Leather tiles have a seductive aroma and very soft to the touch. You will never walk on anything as sensual as a leather floor. They are sound proof and insulating, therefore, excellent to install in bedrooms, libraries, and media rooms. Some people install it like an area rug with wood flooring or carpet.

A talented handyman could install leather tiles as it is similar to installing laminated flooring. It is recommended, although, to have it installed professionally because of the cost of the tile.

Info of Crawlspace Foundation

• THE ROTTING OF WOOD

Wood rot is basically the gradual deterioration of wood caused by one or many pieces of fungus. The fungus does the job of gulping down the distinct parts of wood that leads to giving the wood a certain kind of strength and stiffness. This is one of the most unfortunate effects of a bad crawlspace and leads to some serious amount of damaging of the wood present in the house.

• THE FLOOR JOIST DAMAGE

If it is not known to many, then first know that the crawlspace floor joist has a very big role to play in the construction of the house. A not very strong and considerably weak and a much damaged or a very over- spanned floor joist can sort to need a lot of different types of repairs. There is however a solution present to resolve this crawlspace floor joist issue that is to first understand the exact kind of problem the floor is facing. This will give you the lead and make you discover the correct problem for the solution to take place.

• THE DAMAGING OF THE BEAM

A beam can either have a wood rot or a certain kind of termite damage. Whatever it might be, there is some solution to face these problems as well. In the worst case scenario, the beams have to be replaced. This is said to be a very serious and dangerous process as well and you should always make sure that the people you hire to do the work of replacement should be great professionals. It should be very clearly kept in mind that the replacing beam should be of the same size as the previous one and should also have some extra piers or columns to support the beam.

• THE INACCESSIBILITY OF THE CRAWLSPACE

There are certain homes where the crawlspace is too tight and small to crawl in. It should measure a minimum of 18 inches of clearance properly divided between the lower part of the floor joists and the dirt floor. This should be maintained because if the measurement of the crawlspace is not of an optimum size then it can again lead to wood rot which is one of the most tiresome problems of a crawlspace foundation.

Info of Bathroom Flooring

First, decide what type of flooring you want for your bathroom. Tile works especially well, because any of the pieces that become rotted, mildewed, or damaged are easy to replace without taking up the entire floor. Just be sure to buy extra tiles when purchasing the initial batch so the replacement pieces will match their original counterparts. Linoleum may be cheaper, and some people find it a smoother application and fit than tile. But linoleum can be a little trickier to replace if one part becomes damaged, because you will have to cut away the broken part and cut the precise shape and size of replacement tile, which is no small feat.

Next, buy your supplies at the hardware or flooring supply store. Ask the sales associate for suggestions or help when you go shopping for bathroom flooring needs. Read the directions on the adhesive container as well as guidelines that come with the tile or linoleum. In addition, you can check with the sales associate at the store or visit the manufacturer’s website to get help in planning the installation. If you haven’t already, check out tips for removing the old flooring, and repair or replace the sub-floor.

At home, lay out your materials, choosing a time when other family members will be away or occupied in another part of the house. Open the windows or run the whole-house fan to provide adequate air circulation to offset fumes from the adhesive and flooring product. Start in the corner furthest from the doorway that you will exit after completing the job, and this is where to begin laying the new flooring.

Remove any debris from the exposed sub-floor. Remove or cover wall coving to keep it from getting stained by the adhesive. Then apply the adhesive according to the package directions. After this, lay the linoleum or tile, taking care to put it neatly in place. Make sure it is secure and will hold steady until the adhesive dries. Take a clean towel or rag and use it to wipe away excess glue from between the tiles or around the linoleum. Keep everyone off the new flooring until the adhesive has set.

Wood Sub Floors

The problem is this: concrete is porous like a sponge. If you have moisture in the earth around your basement floor, the concrete floor will soak that moisture up from the ground and release it into the basement air in the form of water vapor. The dirt around your foundation was backfilled in when the foundation was built. Because of this, it will always be looser and more porous than the virgin earth around it, and water will always collect against your home’s foundation more than anywhere else.

As this moisture soaks through to the basement and is released, it will collect on anything lying on your basement floor. If you’ve laid a wood sub floor and carpet on the floor, then you can count on that to soak up this moisture and grow mold, mildew, and rot. Your basement will fill with mold spores, dust mite feces, and unpleasant odors as your wood sub floors and beautiful carpet decays. In a few years, the damage will be more than you can stand, and the whole finished basement floor will need to be ripped up and replaced. The solution to this comes in two easy rules:

Rule 1: Never install wood floors in a basement.
Whether it’s in the form of moisture coming through the concrete, a foundation leak, or a plumbing leak from within the house itself, water will reach the basement floor sooner or later. It only takes about 48 hours for mold to start growing, and there’s no easy way to dry wood sub floors out. Installing wood sub floors in a basement is a risk at best and a disaster at worst.

Rule 2: Add a reliable plastic vapor barrier to your floor, then lay your carpeting on top.
A thick pile carpet will add warmth to the room and will absorb sounds, making the finished basement quieter than ever. It’ll be softer under foot and will make the room as comfortable as possible for children to play in.

Deal With Wet Basement

The extra costs are what stop the average contractor from offering you , the homeowner, a product that is effective and will last and “stand the test of time”. We have developed and recommend if you plan to re-seal your basement; that you use a  MULTI-STEP EXTERIOR WATERPROOFING SYSTEM which, uses a cement-based fiber re-enforced wall resurfacing system and NO LESS than two waterproof rated sealants. This is by no means the cheapest of methods, however, and it may or may not be the BEST system to put into place. Which system you should use depends entirely on the specific nature of YOUR problem. There are NO miracle systems than can solve ALL basement problems. The thing I can guarantee is if you use a multistep outside waterproof system it will actively drain water away from the foundation, and the water leak will be a thing of the past, not only that, but the sealants will outlast the wood on your house GUARANTEED!

The second solution is an Interior solution which I call the sub-floor water re-directional system. This involves trenching around the interior of the basement wall and installing a drainage system around the perimeter of the inside of the basement. Many companies never explain that the system only works by completely draining the walls and any water under the slab during periods of extended rain or no melt when the water table rises. This system will allow water to be “drained” from the inside of the walls by drilling weep holes into every core of every single block then drained under the floor into a drain pipe and generally to a sump pump to then be pumped out. Other companies will often “explain” that the pipe under the floor takes all the ground water and the outside trench will take away surface water. This outside trench is shallow and worthless. They never even MENTION the drainage holes drilled into the core face of the bottom row of block in the basement, under the level of the floor slab. And folks, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. It is also the step most often “screwed up” by other contractors. You see there are two variables that must be dealt with in ensuring the effectiveness of the “weep holes”. First is that when the mason was laying the blocks different masons “slough off” different amounts of mortar into the bottom course which affects the level of the “bottom” inside the blocks themselves. This means it is important to make sure that you are above the mortar bed and yet remain in the lowest part of the block.

Secondly it is ESSENTIAL to make sure that your men are educated as to the history of the development of concrete blocks, as well as all of the different core patterns that have been incorporated into them over time. You see this work is done by YOUNG men. In their short lifetime concrete blocks have only been made with Two cores. If they drill into the block where they imagine the core is today, in one of the many variations in block design that have occurred over the years, it is entirely possible , no probable that they are drilling into the web rather than the core or pocket of the block. Only by drilling into every single core of every single block does it become possible to drain the entire wall and make the system work effectively. It is entirely possible to install the drain tiles perfectly and… still leave ALL of the water dammed up inside the walls, wasting all that money and still leaving the problem UNSOLVED. In fact many times I get called after the homeowners have spent thousands of dollars to “waterproof ” their basement and even THOUSANDS MOREto turn it into finished space. Only to find mold growing on newly installed drywall. This happened to one of my customers named Bonnie Rembowski. She had hired a big local company and they installed an inside system. She then hired a contractor to remodel her basement. They hung new dry wall and framed new walls. She had new carpeting installed and everything seemed perfect until… Bonnie kept getting sick.

She was treated for recurring bronchitis many times over a period of about six months. Finally one day Bonnie’s doctor suggested to her that she have her house checked for mold. Bonnie called me. I began inspecting the basement and I immediately began to notice mold growing along the bottom several feet on all the newly dry-walled walls that had just been “waterproofed”. I began inspecting the inside system and I discovered that even though a permit was pulled … Even though the drainage pipes were inspected and installed properly… even though there was no puddling or physical seepage the system was NOT WORKING . The reason why became apparent after we broke open the floor and inspected the weep holes- JUST AS I SUSPECTED. The walls were not draining do to improper weep hole placement. Poor Bonnie.

WE HAD TO COMPLETELY GUT THE BRAND NEW BASEMENT …and disinfect everything to stop the mold and help her STOP GETTING SICK. She contacted the waterproofing company who did the job WRONG. They told her there was nothing they could do under the warranty since technically the basement hadn’t leaked (it was just DONE WRONG in the first place). Poor Bonnie then had to hire us to fix the basement problem TOO! Unfortunately this is not the first time this has happened to me and sadly I’m afraid it WON’T be the last.

This inside system however is ideal for situations where water is coming up from under the slab itself; in fact it is the only solution for under-slab water issues. No matter which contractor you call the same basic system is used. There are however many problems with this system as is employed by  “competition” nationwide. The GOOD NEWS however is that we have modified the system to eliminate all of the potential problems and WE EDUCATE OUR WORKERS as to the history of concrete blocks. This education guarantees that this kind of a problem won’t happen to you. We also INSIST on installing CLEAN OUTS which are access points set in the floor. These clean outs means that down the road you can maintain your system and “flush it out” every few years with a garden hose. It also means, heaven forbid, you have a problem with the drainage pipes clogging, that you WONT have to JACKHAMMER your floor you can have them snaked or jetted clean! Contrary to what you might have been told PROPERLY INSTALLED inside drainage systems can be the BEST solution when figuring all factors especially the Return On Investment. A PROPERLY INSTALLED inside system is also the preferred method for keeping concrete block walls from disintegrating, due to the fact that it allows for water drainage and keeps soil acid buildup to a minimum.

The last two systems are what we call “beaver” or dam systems that are installed either on top of the floor or just under the floor but on top of the footer that channels water from the walls to either a sump pump or to a floor drain. These systems are marketed to installers usually under the Basement Systems(TM) , Beaver Technology and Squid gee Dri labels, and in my opinion, offer the least protection to your basement.

The Baseboard systems that sit on top of the slab or on top of the footer have several basic flaws.

FLAW ONE: the slab is poured several inches up the bottom block, this means that when the installer drills the weep holes above the floor level the system allows water to keep sitting in the block up several inches which makes humidity which leads to mold and keeps disintegrating the bottom block from the inside out. The bottom block hold the entire weight of the entire house! The LAST thing that you want is that block to crumble -DISASTER!

FLAW TWO: when the cement finisher was troweling your cement floor X number of years ago the last thing on his mind was sloping the perimeter around the basement so 50 years later some guy could glue a gutter around the edge of the basement! What that means is since the gutter is basically level it allows for pooling along the bottom of the walls and is usually just glued into place without any type of pitch added. When the water lays in it in the low sections over time it will DISINTEGRATE or break down the bond between the floor slab and the wall. Eventually LEAKING again into the living space.

FLAW THREE: This system is still prone to the same weep hole placement errors as described above due to variations in the number of cores used in blocks over time.

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